Is Raphinha Going to be Bielsa’s New Enganche?
Kalvin Phillips is often considered to be the single most important player in Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side. He acts as the midfield anchor and improves the defence massively. But there is another vital role in the Argentine’s set-up which contributes to the team’s success at the other end of the pitch. This is the role of enganche, an Argentinian footballing term for the attacking playmaker tasked with creating most of the chances. With Pablo Hernandez’s power waning, Bielsa may be priming new signing Raphinha to take over the mantle in this position.
Hernandez Could be in His Last Season
There is no denying that Hernandez has been one of the standout heroes at Elland Road since Bielsa took over, and the Spaniard’s exploits helped Leeds to claw their way out of the Championship in style. In the 2019-20 second-tier campaign, the 35-year-old registered nine goals and nine assists. He had a passing accuracy of 77 percent over 2698 minutes played, and was the main creator for Leeds when on the pitch.
In the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, however, Hernandez has to make do with sporadic appearances due to an injury he picked up after the opening fixture against Liverpool. When the playmaker has been on the pitch, though, he has seemed rusty. He only has an expected goals (xG) of 0.58 and an expected assists (xA) of 0.09. His average rating per match was 6.52, compared to 7.27 the previous year.
When Hernandez reacted furiously to being subbed off in the 4-1 defeat against Leicester City, he threw a commemorative armband in anger. This led to some speculation that the relationship between the player and the manager may be fractured and Hernandez’s days at the club could be numbered.
Raphinha Has Shown Unselfish Qualities
Before becoming the main creative spark in Bielsa’s side, Hernandez typically played on the right of midfield. Raphinha has spent most of his career out on the flanks, but there is evidence to suggest that he has the ability to play all over the pitch.
The heat map from the Whites’ 1-0 win over Everton shows just how much of a team player the Brazilian is. He spent periods of the game on both flanks, and also cut inside on numerous occasions to occupy a no.10 role. In addition to that, he also unselfishly tracked back and helped out the defence.
It seems as though the former Rennes player could bring the star quality that Leeds need to survive at this level. Indeed, the West Yorkshire club are not really considered to be in the relegation mix this term. They can be backed at 16/1 to go down at the time of writing with Bet365, which is one of the best sites for football betting in India in 2020 according to Asiabet. The site created a detailed guide on how to bet on online football and where to find the best odds and promotions. Each betting site is carefully reviewed by Asiabet to ensure maximum security for the users.
One of the most important things that Raphinha has shown is his ability to make the difference when things don’t seem to be going right. Against Everton at Goodison Park, Leeds had an astonishing 23 shots on goal. They could have easily scored four or more on another day, but Jordan Pickford’s heroic goalkeeping, along with the goalposts, saved Everton from a thrashing. Leeds deserved the three points from the game, and their new Brazilian signing delivered in the 79th minute with a stunning goal out of nothing.
It is this game-changing ability that makes Raphinha look like a potential replacement for Hernandez. Players tend to improve tenfold under Bielsa, so it is scary to think just how amazing Raphinha could be after a full season under the legendary tactician’s tutelage. It seems that Raphinha has muscled Helder Costa out and earned his spot in the starting XI at Leeds. But whether he will go on to take on the role of enganche remains to be seen.