With no wins from their opening two Premier League games of the season, Leeds United will be hoping for another happy hunting when they make the trip to Burnley on Sunday afternoon.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side produced one of their finest displays of the campaign last term when they beat the Clarets 4-0 at Turf Moor, thanks to goals from Mateusz Klich, Jack Harrison and a brace from Rodrigo too.
But while the forwards fired on all cylinders, Diego Llorente’s presence at the back, especially in the absence of club captain Liam Cooper, built the cornerstone of such an impressive performance and result – he finished the game with the highest match rating of any defender on the pitch for either side as per Sofascore.
And, following his comeback from injury in midweek against Crewe in the Carabao Cup second round, Bielsa must unleash him in the Premier League for the first time this season when the Whites head back to Turf Moor.
The “imperious” Spaniard became a regular Leeds’ defence in the final few weeks of last campaign, starting 13 of the last 14 games in the top-flight and coming up with some impressive performances – not least netting a late equaliser against Liverpool.
He earned a WhoScored match rating of 6.90, which marked him out as the Whites’ second-best centre-back after Cooper, who was also the actually the only player at the club to win more headers per game than Llorente’s 2.2.
Given that ability to win the aerial challenges, the Spain international will be a vital presence at the back to deal with the likes of Chris Wood up front, while he will be equally valuable when it comes to set-pieces and handling the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.
The £18m-rated ace could well be Bielsa’s game-changer in helping to counter Burnley’s physical approach.