Having been without Diego Llorente for the past couple of games in the Premier League, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa must surely call upon him when his side take on Watford this afternoon.
The Whites have seen the Spaniard only briefly in action this season, playing more than an hour in the 1-1 draw against Burnley, before being forced off with injury early on in the game against Liverpool three weeks ago.
However, having confirmed that he is now fit and available for selection, Bielsa must throw him straight into the deep end when they take on the promoted Hornets at Elland Road.
The “imperious” Spaniard, as hailed by Adam Pope, became a regular Leeds’ defence in the final few weeks of 2020/21, starting 13 of the last 14 games in that top-flight season 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 only player at the club to win more headers per game than Llorente’s 2.2.
Former Leeds striker Noel Whelan raved: “He looked every bit that leader and that quality centre-half that we were all expecting when he signed for the football club. There was great excitement about him it took a long time to get to see him consistently.
“But when we did, we saw him grow and grow and grow. We saw him get stronger and better as the games went on. If you ask any Leeds United fan who watched him in that second part of the season and ask them who would be the first centre-half on the team sheet, they would say Llorente.”
Given the poor start Leeds have made to the new Premier League campaign, a bit of quality at the back and bringing in someone as composed Llorente could ease some of the concerns regarding the team’s defending.
The £18m-rated ace could well be the game-changing return at the back which swings things back in Leeds’ favour heading into today’s clash with Watford.