Leeds United sit at the top of the Championship table on goal difference as they prepare to go head-to-head with 6th place Brentford on Saturday lunchtime.
A narrow midweek victory over Hull City enabled Leeds to return to the top of the Championship table with 11 fixtures played. It’s a long old slog to the end of the season but Marcelo Bielsa’s impact thus far has installed a genuine sense of optimism into the supporters and a belief that a return to the top-flight is finally on the cards.
The Argentine has managed to bring the best out of a group of players who fell well short of the playoffs last season, with a number of individual success stories to report.
Mateusz Klich – a player whose career at Elland Road had been widely written off last season – has been a standout performer for the Whites, but Samu Saiz is also worthy of a special mention for the key role he has played this season.
The Spanish playmaker has been an ever-present in a number ten role, but his failure to find the back of the net so far is a slight cause for concern considering the advanced role in which he plays.
However, Bielsa appears relatively unflustered by Saiz’s failure to get on the scoresheet this season, as he told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Saiz hasn’t scored a goal so far and we can see that is a deficit but he’s a player with a lot of influence in building our offensive actions,”
Whilst Saiz’s goalscoring return in Spain was certainly something to shout about, his record in England has lacked the potency which he showed prior to leaving his home nation for the challenge of Championship football.
But in a team which is becoming increasingly reliant on technical quality under a manager who is famed for his eccentric, yet fundamentally possession-based approach, there is arguably no player more important than Saiz.
In respect of what Saiz brings to his side in the final-third, Biesla added: “he also receives the first pass in the most difficult zones on the pitch.”
The level of confidence, technique and composure which are required to do what Leeds’ crafty number ten does are qualities which are seldom found in Championship players.
That Leeds have a player who is able to complete the transition from midfield to attack and enable his teammates to find space in the final-third and create goal-scoring opportunities is a privilege which could prove decisive in their bid to end their top-flight exile.
He may not be scoring right now but with plenty of goalscorers in Leeds’ ranks there’s no question that Saiz’s “deficit” is not worth worrying about, and if he continues to perform at the level he has set for himself this season he will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in his side’s promotion bid.
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