Marcelo Bielsa: Raphinha’s footwork makes him a rare talent

Marcelo Bielsa has explained why players such as Leeds winger Raphinha are so rare in the Premier League.

Raphinha hit the ground running for Bielsa’s side after joining in October last year for a reported £17million from Rennes.

The 24-year-old Brazilian’s eye-catching displays have prompted speculation linking him with summer moves to both Manchester United and Liverpool.

Raphinha, second right, fires home a superb equaliser against Everton last week
Raphinha, second right, fires home a superb equaliser against Everton last week (Richard Sellers/PA)

Bielsa said: “He’s a very potent player. It’s very difficult to triumph in the Premier League if you don’t have this potency.

“It’s his explosiveness and his speed, his repetitions and quick physical responses.

“On top of that he sustains the effort without any problems. Players with those conditions, there are many in the Premier League.

“What there are very few of are the players with the talent that he has with his feet, that he has to resolve a situation.

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“And apart from that, being able to imagine responses and to actually carry them out also.”

Bielsa is clearly delighted with the impact made by Raphinha, who scored six goals and made nine assists in the top flight last season and lashed home a superb equaliser in last week’s 2-2 home draw against Everton.

The Argentinian joked: “If I was with my friends, they would say, ‘so many words just to say that he plays well!'”

Raphinha is expected back in Leeds’ starting line-up for their Sunday lunch-time kick-off at Burnley having been left out of the midweek Carabao Cup win against Crewe.

Bielsa made six changes on Tuesday night and Patrick Bamford, Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas and Mateusz Klich are also likely to return.

Spain defender Diego Llorente played the first 45 minutes after recovering from a muscle strain and could make his first league start of the season.

Adam Forshaw is another player hoping to give Bielsa a selection dilemma after the Leeds boss confirmed he came through unscathed against Crewe.

The 29-year-old midfielder made his first senior appearance in almost two years after overcoming a chronic hip problem.

Bielsa said: “He’s reacted positively. He played 60 minutes and he did it in a very intense manner. The recovery in the days after the game has been satisfactory.

“Our hope and desire is that as time goes on we won’t need to worry about how he deals with the loads and we will consider him fully healthy.”