Noel Whelan has paid tribute to the work rate of Leeds United ace Raphinha, claiming that his determination to get back and defend is something even Lionel Messi wouldn’t show [Football Insider].
The Lowdown: Raphinha, someone who has made an immediate impact in English football
Making an immediate impact since signing for the Whites from Rennes last season, the 24-year-old has gone on to register 16 goal contributions in 34 games for his current employers; seven goals and nine assists [Transfermarkt].
Earning adulation in high-places, Raphinha was compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by Manchester United legend Roy Keane following Leeds United’s 1-1 draw away to Burnley last weekend [Leeds Live].
Were Whelan's comments on Raphinha over the top?
The Latest: Noel Whelan echoes Roy Keane sentiment in latest interview
“Raphinha is fantastic on the ball, great on the eye and can produce moments of magic that other players simply can’t.
“But what I really like is his work out of possession. He is not afraid to really work hard, track back and double-up with the full-back. It is an attribute you sometimes don’t get with technically talented players. They do one side of it but not the other. That is not the case with Raphinha though.
“When I watch him he is relentless. He works his socks off. You would not see Messi doing that and you would not even see Ronaldo doing it anymore.
“A high work rate is what Marcelo Bielsa demands though so you would not get away with that.”
The Verdict: Raphinha will continue to be a key player for LUFC in 2021/22
Throwing some pretty extraordinary plaudits his way, popular-ex pro turned pundit Whelan makes a very compelling statement that accurately describes Raphinha’s diverse range of qualities on the pitch.
Last term, his ability to work hard was in full view, with the former Sporting Lisbon man making 34 successful tackles [Premier League].
Of course, being able to do the ugly side of the game is a pre-requisite of Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play, something which helped his side to earn a commendable ninth-placed finish in 2020/21.
The Argentinian will be hoping for more of the same in the forthcoming months.
In other news, an ex-Leeds United ace has predicted a January exit from Elland Road. Find out more here.
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