When Pablo Hernandez signed for Leeds on loan in 2016, few supporters would have expected him to make the impact he has.
After all, the Spaniard scored just five times during a two-year spell where he played on 71 occasions for Swansea.
It wasn’t too clear whether English football suited Hernandez but he has swatted those fears away in unrelenting fashion.
Hernandez has become a cult hero at Elland Road and has won their Player of the Season three years in a row. On that evidence, English football has been game-changing for the midfield veteran.
In his first two seasons at Leeds, he racked up 30 goal contributions. However, since Marcelo Bielsa walked through the door, he has been taken to a whole new level.
His tallies across the previous two campaigns amount to 42 goal involvements. Considering his age, it’s a remarkable accomplishment.
Though, with Leeds earning promotion to the Premier League, it has arguably been detrimental to his career. The club broke their transfer record to sign Rodrigo and since his arrival, Hernandez has started just twice in the top-flight.
It’s a sorry sight for someone who has offered so much to Leeds, but clearly, Bielsa thinks he has taken Hernandez as far as he can.
Phil Hay revealed before deadline day that Castellon – his boyhood club – were interested in signing the 35-year-old and indeed he reiterated those claims once the window shut. Castellon will reportedly revive their interest in the summer and if they come calling, it will be time to cut ties.
The £18k-per-week earner has enjoyed a wonderful stint in Yorkshire, one where he’s been described as “unreal” by Hay, but clearly, he’s struggling with the fast-paced life of the Premier League. Hernandez has only registered two assists this term and with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2022, this year is when they must cash in.
It’s unlikely that Victor Orta will gather a hefty fee for his services but at the moment, it is damaging to his career if he stays.
For the first time in Bielsa’s Leeds reign, Hernandez is out of favour. The jinking runs and mesmeric passing is still there, but the energy is not.
A place on the substitutes bench has been the story of his season and even with Rodrigo now missing through injury, it’s Stuart Dallas being preferred in the middle.
It also spoke volumes that Tyler Roberts was introduced ahead of Hernandez in the defeat against Everton in midweek.
Bielsa is clearly beginning to phase the midfielder out and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if he departed in the next window. It’s the perfect time for Leeds to cash in on the Spanish magician.