Leeds United winger Raphinha may have become even more crucial for the Whites than Kalvin Phillips, according to journalist Phil Hay.
The Lowdown: Raphinha excels on Brazil debut
The 24-year-old has been superb for Leeds since arriving from Rennes in 2020 and he has taken his form with him to the international stage.
Raphinha registered two assists on his Brazil debut on Thursday evening, helping them to a 3-1 victory away to Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier.
The Latest: Hay hails winger
It was a performance that summed up Raphinha’s brilliance, and taking to Twitter on Friday morning, The Athletic‘s Hay admitted that he could be the first name on Leeds’ team-sheet, ahead of even Phillips:
“One of the questions in the mailbag was ‘Is Raphinha Leeds’ most important player?’ and even though Phillips is the player Leeds really miss, you could easily make an argument for Raphinha.”
The Verdict: Phillips still the key man
Raphinha is a wonderful footballer who is unquestionably one of Leeds’ star men, but Phillips is still the player they miss the most when he isn’t there, losing seven out of the nine fixtures he was absent for in the top flight last term.
That was highlighted in the 5-1 defeat at Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season when the Whites’ midfield fell apart without him in the team.
Phillips has averaged 2.3 tackles per game in the Premier League this season – only Liam Cooper (2.7) has more – as well as an 84.6 percent pass completion rate.
The England international brings so much energy, quality and all-round influence in the middle of the park that he has the edge over Raphinha, which isn’t to diminish his own class as a footballer.
In other news, one Leeds player has been tipped to make a ‘breakthrough’. Find out who it is here.
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