Championship

Opinion: Tyler Roberts could play key role at number ten if Leeds fail in Daniel James pursuit

Opinion: Tyler Roberts could play key role at number ten if Leeds fail in Daniel James pursuit

Leeds United have been in hot pursuit of Swansea City’s Daniel James since they concluded a deal for Kiko Casilla, but with just three days remaining in the transfer window a deal does not appear to be in the pipeline.

The transfer window is tempestuous at the best of times but the lack of reports concerning developments with Leeds’ interest in James are not lending reason to suggest that a late January deal is on the cards.

Marcelo Bielsa’s apparent preference to deploy Pablo Hernandez at number ten appears to have dictated his approach to the market, with a bid for a wide player rather than a replacement for Samu Saiz sitting at the top of the agenda.

It’s looking unlikely that Bielsa’s desire to bolster his strength in depth will be realised, but Tyler Roberts’ showing against Rotherham on Saturday afternoon hinted that he will play a greater role in the side if Victor Orta fails to lure James to Elland Road.

Roberts, a player who had not played a full half of Championship football since he completed 90 minutes against Blackburn in October prior to Saturday, was brought on to replace Jack Clarke at half-time against Rotherham.

The substitution pushed Hernandez out onto the left-wing, where his influence rapidly increased, while Roberts thrived in a number ten role.

The 20-year-old prodigy is a centre-forward by trade, but yet another impressive showing in attacking midfield hints that Bielsa may be inclined to trust him in that position with increasing regularity as the season develops.

Naturally, Bielsa and everybody associated with Leeds will be eager to wrap up a deal for James this week; the importance of strength in depth cannot be underestimated and Leeds’ incredible misfortune with injuries this season is a testament to that, even if they have coped remarkably well with the never ending catalogue of problems which have unfolded.

But Bielsa’s trust in the tools at his disposal seems to breed an exponential improvement both collectively and individually, as Roberts’ performances in unfamiliar territory have shown.

The technical prowess and composure in possession Roberts has shown proves that he is capable of thriving at number ten and, with Matseuz Klich’s return to goal scoring form also to consider, Bielsa should have plenty of opportunity to tinker with his line-up in the event that Hernandez struggles to make an impact behind the striker.

Roberts’ injection of quality against Rotherham might just have opened the door for him to thrive in a new-look role during the final months of the season.

Leeds fans – thoughts? Let us know below!

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