Marcelo Bielsa has revealed Pontus Jansson was Leeds United’s best player last season as the two prepare to go up against each other on Wednesday night.
The Sweden international defender was sold by the Whites in the summer and currently plies his trade with Championship rivals Brentford.
The two clubs are set to face each other at Elland Road on Wednesday and Bielsa was asked about the potential reception Jansson could receive from supporters on the night.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference – as quoted by Leeds Live – he said: “He deserves to be received with the right reception (?). He was the best player last season. I cannot talk about his previous years because I wasn’t here. He did a high level last season. I appreciate what Jansson gave to the team. I think the fans are going to be fair and recognise what Jansson did here.”
Jansson’s departure appeared to raise a few eyebrows in the summer, especially once it was learnt that he was sold for a rather small £5.5m (Daily Mail).
Indeed, during his time at Elland Road, the Swede was a fan favourite with the crowd and was a highly influential figure on the pitch, which would back up Bielsa’s comments about his thoughts on the type of reaction he may receive on Wednesday night.
Looking at his stats by WhoScored, the Argentine also appears to have a case to back up his claims suggesting that the defender was his best player.
The 28-year-old managed to average a rather impressive 2.4 tackles, 2.3 interceptions and 4.2 clearances with a player rating of 7.27 as the Whites fell just short in their quest of obtaining promotion to the Premier League.
However, it appears as though Leeds have been able to cope without Jansson this season so far, with Ben White and Liam Cooper both seemingly unable to put a foot wrong at the moment.
White, who is on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion this season, has managed to average 2.7 tackles, 2.3 interceptions and 2.7 clearances per game, whilst Cooper has an average of one tackle, 1.3 interceptions and 4.7 clearances every 90 minutes across three Championship appearances each.
It might not be surprising to hear that Bielsa felt that Jansson was the best player at Leeds last season, as his stats would go a very long way to suggest that point as being valid.
However, that is all in the past and the Whites will know that they will need to be at their very best to get past him and Brentford on Wednesday night if they are to retain their status at the top of the Championship at this early stage of the campaign.
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