Leeds United have excited fans both on and off the pitch. Seven points from four Premier League games, combined with the signings of Spain and Germany internationals have delighted supporters – but Leeds are yet to use Diego Llorente.
Llorente, 27, joined Leeds for a fee believed to be in the region of £18million (Independent) from Real Sociedad. However, since his arrival, he has been left out of Marcelo Bielsa’s starting XI – remaining an unused sub against Manchester City.
But the defender remains a part of Spain’s squad, and he posted a video on Instagram of him scoring goals in Spain training – netting past Spain’s goalkeepers including David De Gea. It shows just how good he is with the ball at his feet.
It comes as no surprise that Llorente is technically gifted, despite being a defender. Bielsa will only incorporate defenders in his side that can play football – just look at Ben White, Pascal Struijk and fellow summer signing Robin Koch.
But with Koch impressing and Liam Cooper a pivotal part of the Leeds side as both captain and a left-footed central defender, where can Llorente have an impact in Bielsa’s side – given his impressive technique and ball-playing ability?
Cooper is tasting his first ever Premier League action, and played in a side that conceded three goals to Fulham. Yes, he has a new partner alongside him and it will take time to get going. Yes, he was injured against Liverpool.
But is he really the long-term answer at centre-back? He is certainly a fan favourite and loved by Whites fans. But putting sentiment aside, Llorente may eventually come into the side in place of Cooper.
In Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 system, Kalvin Phillips plays alone. But in the three-man defence that Bielsa chose to field against Sheffield United, Phillips played alongside Stuart Dallas – and that is a role that Llorente could do.
His Instagram video is proof of just that. Llorente clearly has impeccable technique, enough to play in midfield – something which he has done for Real Sociedad over the past three years. Llorente could mean a defensive, or midfield reshuffle.
Overlapping defender, Wilder style?
Chris Wilder’s overlapping centre-backs took the Premier League by storm last season. It saw the Blades blitz their opponents’ midfield, as the likes of Chris Basham and others drove into the middle of the park.
Llorente, given his ability, could do that if fielded either side of captain Cooper. A back three of Koch, Cooper and Llorente could really work for Leeds – just like it did for Wilder and Sheffield United last term.