Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Kevin Phillips Backs Leeds United To Offload This Star Playmaker In January: A Wise Option For Bielsa?

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

During an interview with Football Insider, Kevin Phillips has backed Leeds United to offload Pablo Hernandez. The former English footballer believes that an Elland Road exit in the upcoming January transfer window could be on the cards for the Leeds United playmaker, who has found it difficult to get regular game-time this season.

“If he isn’t in the squad [against West Ham], reading between the lines, it looks like he has been frozen out. Bielsa has said that he is available so if he is not in the squad, you would say that the writing would be on the wall for him. There could be a January exit there to free up a salary for another defender or even someone in Hernandez’s position. It will be interesting to see what happens tonight.”, Phillips told Football Insider

Pablo Hernandez’s Unfortunate Start To The Campaign

At the start of the season, Pablo Hernandez seemed like an essential cog in the Leeds United, having played a major role in their Championship-winning campaign. However, the summer arrival of players like Rodrigo Moreno and Raphinha gave a clear indicator that things were going to get tough for the ageing playmaker at Elland Road.

In addition, Hernandez was also unfortunate to have picked up an injury early in the campaign. It ruled him out for three matches, allowing new signing Rodrigo to get valuable opportunities to prove himself.

The ex-Valencia star didn’t disappoint either, making quite a mark before getting sidelined due to Covid-19. Unfortunately for Hernandez, his problems with match fitness kept him out of action, with the 35-year-old yet to play a single minute since the 4-1 defeat to Leicester City.

Kevin Phillips has backed Arsenal to offload Pablo Hernandez - It has been a difficult season for him.
Leeds United v Leicester City Premier League 02/11/2020. Leeds United midfielder Pablo Hernandez 19 during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road, Leeds, England on 2 November 2020. Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See www.football-dataco.com PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK, Copyright: xSimonxDaviesx PSI-10988-0154

Should Bielsa Offload Leeds United?

12 matches into the new season, it appears Hernandez has fallen behind the likes of Rodrigo, Raphinha, Mateusz Klich and Jack Harrison in the pecking order. Even the likes of Jamie Shackleton and Helder Costa have been given more chances than the Spaniard.

From a tactical perspective, the situation makes sense for Marcelo Bielsa, who has managed to fill the gap left by the injury of Hernandez. And in the likes of Raphinha, Harrison and Klich, he has found a more than decent creative unit, with Harrison, in particular, notably creating the fifth-highest number of chances in the Premier League this season.

The presence of Hernandez, therefore, does seem redundant to an extent for Leeds United. The ageing midfielder provides no definite value to the squad in terms of tactical versatility, and a move away from Elland Road could bode well for the club.

It could, after all, help the Whites to balance their books following a relatively busy summer transfer window, ultimately allowing them to use the funds to hunt for a reliable alternative for Patrick Bamford. So it would be interesting to see how this potential transfer saga transpires over the next couple of months.

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