Leeds United have had a real struggle in the first half of their second season since returning to the Premier League, with a huge injury crisis which has seen Bielsa trying to cobble together a starting XI to keep them out of a relegation battle as best he can with the players available to him.
The last thing that Bielsa or the Whites need right now is to lose any players during the January transfer window, but sporting director Victor Orta could be heading for a transfer disasterclass if he lets one particular star slip through the Elland Road exit door over the next few weeks.
Raphinha has been heavily linked with moves away from the club for some times, with many clubs interested in securing the signature of the Brazilian forward, including Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
The reliance on him is reflected in the fact that the second top goal contributor for the club this term is Patrick Bamford, with just two goals and three assists. He has sustained two injuries this season, with only six Premier League appearances out of a possible 18 so far in 2021/22.
According to data collected from SofaScore, Raphinha has been the highest-rated player for the Whites this season (7.04), taking more shots per game (three) than any other player in the squad.
There is a glimmer of hope for Leeds to keep the winger at Elland Road, as The Athletic reported this week that the club have opened new contract negotiations with the Brazil star to extend the terms that he currently holds until June 2024.
The report suggests that the 25-year-old has been receptive to Leeds’ advances on the potential of penning a new deal with the club, with his agent even attending the home defeat to Arsenal in December.
Orta will need to work hard to keep the Brazilian goal machine at the club to avoid the disastrous mistake of selling him, and a contract extension would be hugely beneficial towards preserving the club’s future in the Premier League given the consistent output that Raphinha offers, as evidenced in the aforementioned stats.
In other news: Marcelo Bielsa confirms injury boosts ahead of Burnley clash