Ex-Leeds United hero Noel Whelan has tipped Rodrigo to shine in a No.10 role next season, dropping deeper but still scoring plenty of goals.
The Lowdown: Signs of life from record signing Rodrigo
The Spaniard arrived for £27million from Valencia last summer, making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history.
The Latest: Whelan talks up role change
Although Rodrigo has often been used as a No.9 by Marcelo Bielsa, someone who believes who could thrive more in a deeper role is Whelan.
Speaking to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker tipped him to be hugely effective in that position, putting his all-round game to good use:
“There are a lot of different aspects to his game. We saw that against Southampton with that pass over the top to Bamford. That was very much a number 10 type of pass.
“That’s the kind of brilliance you expect to see from your number 10. But then you see the goals he scored at Burnley, a natural finish after a great first touch.
“Then again yesterday, he was in the right place at the right time. He had that hunger and instinct to get in the box and on the end of a cross.
“There is a possibility that he could play a number nine role, yeah. But I think with [Pablo] Hernandez going, that number 10 role is his.
“He could still get into double figures from that position, easy. Even when he has an interview he says he’s a number 10 rather than a number nine.
“He’s very good at finding pockets of space and linking up play. He does have that forward-thinking attitude and instinct where he wants to get into the box. But he’s got too much intelligence just to be a number nine.”
The Verdict: Big things next season?
There is no denying that Rodrigo’s first year at Leeds has been disappointing, but these last few weeks have shown the quality he possesses.
Using him as a No.10 could be a shrewd move by Bielsa, allowing him to dovetail with Patrick Bamford and wreak havoc with both his creativity and eye for goal, having averaged 1.2 key passes per game in the Premier League.
It is hard to envisage anyone ousting Bamford as the main striker for the time being, so this change in role could also guarantee Rodrigo more regular playing time.
In other news, one Leeds player has been named in a pundit’s Team of the Season. Find out who it is here.
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