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Noel Whelan Is Full Of Praise For This Leeds United Defender: Why Bielsa Needs To Keep Hold Of Him

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent interview with Football Insider, ex-Coventry City forward Noel Whelan was full of praise for Leeds United defender Diego Llorente, who has started in seven consecutive matches after returning to full fitness back in February. Whelan said,

“Llorente just gets better and better.

“He is my first choice at centre-half all day long.

“He just keeps proving me right. Leeds were right to buy him and now that we have got him to a fitness level where he can put a good run of games together we are seeing an incredible player.

“He is proving to be such an important player for us. The only question is who plays next to him.

“You wonder where Leeds could have finished if Llorente and other center-halves were fit for the full season.”

Llorente’s Solid Form At Elland Road Recently

Despite missing a significant chunk of this campaign because of a groin injury and later, a hamstring problem, Llorente deserves a lot of credit for producing some commanding displays as a key member of Marcelo Bielsa’s defence. The Madrid-born sensation has made nine appearances for the Whites this term, picking up one yellow card across all fronts.

The Spanish defensive ace deserves a lot of credit for giving a good account of himself upon his return from injury as he is averaging 2.3 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 2.7 clearances and 0.6 clearances per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season. He has also distributed the ball relatively well out from the back after completing 81% of his attempted passes in the English first division (stats via whoscored).

Noel Whelan is full of praise for Leeds United's Llorente who is in action in the picture
Diego Llorente of Leeds United tussles with Phil Jagielka of Sheffield Utd during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. Picture date: 3rd April 2021. Picture credit should read: Andrew Yates/Sportimage PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK SPI-0981-0025

What Does The Spanish Sensation Bring To The Table?

Llorente is a moderately paced centre-back who can read the danger quickly and is a decent tackler of the ball. He has got the hunger to win possession back for his team and can position himself well to make a clearance when required.

The seven-time Spain international is a composed presence on the ball and can play his way out of defence with a lot of conviction. Standing at 1.86m, Llorente can use his strong frame and leaping ability to beat the opposition attackers in the air.

Why The Whites Need To Keep Hold Of Llorente For The Long-Run

As long as Llorente can steer clear of injuries, he is good enough to be a regular feature in Marcelo Bielsa’s team for years to come. When he is playing with confidence on the field, the Spaniard is one of the first names in the Leeds manager’s teamsheet which goes to show just how well he has been playing of late.

Llorente is still under contract at Elland Road until the summer of 2024. Thus, the Whites should focus on keeping him at the club for at least the duration of his contract as he is currently playing at his prime and could even propel the Yorkshire giants to fight for a European spot in the coming seasons.

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