Marcelo Bielsa heaps praise on ‘spontaneous’ Leeds winger Raphinha

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Marcelo Bielsa said there was little he could teach Raphinha, who turned in another eye-catching display in Leeds’ 3-0 home win against Southampton.

Patrick Bamford’s 13th Premier League goal of the season and Stuart Dallas put Leeds in control before Raphinha curled home a sublime free-kick in the closing stages.

The Brazilian winger laid on a host of chances for his team-mates as Leeds climbed back into the top half of the table.

“I sincerely think that I can add very little to his game,” Bielsa said. “The best thing you can do with players who are so spontaneous is to let them be themselves.”

The 24-year-old is widely regarded as one of the steals of the season after signing from Rennes in October for £17million plus add-ons.

He showed why against Southampton by combining his ability to glide by opposing defenders and provide accurate crosses with an insatiable work-rate.

“He’s a player who unbalances (the opposition) by himself, he’s very ambitious, very competitive,” Bielsa said after his side secured their 200th Premier League win.

Leeds United v Southampton – Premier League – Elland Road
Raphinha curls home a free-kick (Gareth Copley/PA)

Bielsa also praised another summer signing, Spanish defender Diego Llorente, who made his home debut after a series of injuries had restricted him to just two appearances.

“Evidently Llorente is a player with hierarchy,” Bielsa said. “And in a game like today when the opponent used different strikers, the majority of them with quality, his contribution was very necessary.”

Dallas celebrated his all-important second goal by holding up a t-shirt in tribute to injured team-mate Kalvin Phillips’ grandmother, Val Crosby, who died last week.

‘Granny Val’ had endeared herself to the Leeds squad, Bielsa and his staff during their promotion-winning campaign and also appeared in the Amazon documentary Take Us Home.

“For us Phillips is a player we love a lot,” Bielsa added. “He’s an emblem of Leeds United.

“After we got promoted the figure of Kalvin’s grandmother became known to the public and we started to all care about her.

“She was a very charismatic and very attractive person to those who knew her, we regret deeply that she’s no longer with us and of course the loss for Kalvin and for all his family.”

Leeds United v Southampton – Premier League – Elland Road
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl looking animated on the touchline during the game (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

He also rued an effort from Che Adams, which was ruled out just before half-time after referee Andre Marriner claimed he had not blown for a free-kick to be taken.

“You can say these were decisive, but we had still enough time to turn things around,” Hasenhuttl said. “But after the first goal we had the first chance on the other side we had not the right game plan any more.

“We left what we had in the first half, they had no chances, we were dominating. (Then) we gave it away in a way that was much too easy.”

Hasenhuttl added: “We were the worst team in the second half of the season, we don’t play like a winning team at the moment.”

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