It’s been a slow start to the season for Leeds United after their hugely successful return to the Premier League last term, but there has been a handful of positives for Marcelo Bielsa’s charges.
The west Yorkshire outfit finished in ninth-place in 2020/21 after the likes of Raphinha, Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison fired them into the top half of the table.
However, Harrison’s drop-off in form and Bamford’s injury issues have seen Leeds plummet down the table this time around.
After 11 games of the league’s fixture schedule, Bielsa’s side are currently sitting just three places and three points above the relegation zone, yet it could have been much worse if one player hadn’t dramatically improved his performance levels.
Rodrigo arrived from Valencia for a club-record £26m fee last summer after a string of eye-catching performances in his homeland.
But the Spain international struggled to settle upon his return to English shores following a nine-year absence, scoring just seven goals and providing only two assists in 29 appearances, although he was labelled a “class act” by Phil Hay.
Despite his underwhelming showing in his maiden campaign as a Leeds player, though, Rodrigo has bounced back in impressive fashion this fashion, complementing the effervescent Raphinha in radiant fashion and lifting the offensive burden from the Brazilian’s shoulders with devastating effect.
He bagged a last-minute equaliser from the spot to rescue a crucial point against Wolves before following that up with the winning strike against Norwich City a week later, highlighting his growing importance to the team in a campaign where they sit near the foot of the table.
And Rodrigo’s underlying numbers are further evidence of his change in fortunes.
As per SofaScore, the versatile attacker has won a whopping 35 duels in his ten Premier League outings, made 14 key passes to his teammates, created two big chances, made nine tackles and four interceptions.
Bielsa will need his overlooked star to continue his current rise following the international break, with tricky fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove Albion up next.