The Athletic’s Phil Hay has made an exciting Leeds United claim about Raphinha and Marcelo Bielsa.
The Whites made a late move to sign Manchester United’s Dan James on transfer deadline day, and Hay has now suggested there could be a very intriguing tactical tweak on the cards for Bielsa.
He said: “He (James) probably starts on the bench, doesn’t he, behind Raphinha (and) behind Jack Harrison – they seem pretty well-established. But we’ll wait to see whether or not there’s any effort made to convert somebody like Raphinha into a 10.
“From what I can gather, that is on Bielsa’s mind, but I think it would take a heck of a lot of coaching and I think it would be a longer-term process. Raphinha doesn’t instantly look to me like a Bielsa player in that two behind Patrick Bamford.
“It always feels like a little bit closer to an 8 than it is to an out-and-out number 10, who plays solely as a 10, but perhaps it can be done, and I mean, Raphinha, his range of skills are exceptional.”
However, the Brazilian’s ability to beat players one-on-one, and also have the end product to either deliver a pass or land a shot on goal, makes him a rather interesting fit for that number ten role.
Rodrigo has struggled to nail down that position or even convince in that role behind Patrick Bamford, but Raphinha’s explosiveness and willingness to carry the ball could be a game-changer for Bielsa.
As per WhoScored, out of players who have featured in more than one Premier League game this season for Leeds, the 24-year-old ranks top for shots per game, fourth for key passes and second for dribbles.
The former Rennes man can do it all, and by playing him in that number ten role, Bielsa can then fit both Jack Harrison and James into his team out wide and give Leeds an incredibly pacey and exciting attack.
It’s exactly why Hay’s claim that Bielsa is considering moving Raphinha infield could well be a masterstroke from the Argentine tactician.