Leeds United have suffered a major injury blow before their Premier League clash against Manchester United.
The Athletic’s Phil Hay confirmed that Diego Llorente is set to be missing from the trip to Old Trafford this afternoon, revealing that Whites manager Marcelo Bielsa believes the 27-year-old will be out for another one or two weeks.
The Spaniard arrived from La Liga club Real Sociedad for £18m last September, and BBC Sport journalist Adam Pope raved about the ability and quality the defender would bring to Elland Road.
He said: “Marcelo Bielsa loves versatility so Llorente’s ball-playing qualities and ability to do a job in front of the back four if required, like Brighton loanee Ben White did on occasion last season, will be a major plus.”
Llorente emerged as a cornerstone of Leeds’ defence in the final few weeks of last season, starting 13 of the last 14 games in the Premier League and coming up with some big performances – not least netting a late equaliser against Liverpool.
He earned a seasonal WhoScored rating of 6.90, marking him as the Whites’ second-best centre-back after Liam Cooper, who was also the only player at the club to win more headers per game than Llorente’s 2.2.
The Spaniard’s form even raised arguments he should be partnering Sergio Ramos at international level for Euro 2020 during the summer, and that’s a real testament to how much he has grown at Elland Road over the campaign.
To be without such a crucial figure in the back-line, in the first game of the season away at fierce rivals Manchester United – who will be buoyed by the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane – is a bitter blow for Bielsa.
The Leeds manager must be gutted to be without Llorente today.