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Leeds have impressed in their first season back in the Premier League
Leeds have impressed in their first season back in the Premier League

Optimism, excitement and intrigue — there was plenty of noise around Elland Road ahead of this season. 

Many wondered whether boss Marcelo Bielsa would adapt his style to cement Leeds’ stay in the Premier League or dogmatically stick to his principles at all costs. 

Perhaps inevitably, Bielsa took the latter approach. But the plaudits have rolled in for the Argentine and his side. 

Ahead of tonight’s clash with Liverpool, we consider how Leeds can go one further next term and mount a push for Europe.

Keep Raphinha

The Brazilian winger has arguably been the signing of the season. 

Raphinha, 24, joined from Rennes last October in a deal believed to be worth £17million. 

At the time, the switch went under the radar and it was the acquisition of Rodrigo from Valencia that set tongues wagging. 

Leeds forward Patrick Bamford has netted 14 goals this season but needs help
Leeds forward Patrick Bamford has netted 14 goals this season but needs help

But while the Spaniard has struggled to find his groove at Elland Road, Raphinha looks right at home in Yorkshire. 

Only team-mate Patrick Bamford has bettered his 12 goal involvements (six goals and six assists), while Pep Guardiola singled out the fleet-footed forward for praise after last week’s 2-1 win over Manchester City. 

The City boss said: "Of course he’s a weapon, he’s an exceptional player with good pace."

Raphinha has already been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United — but if Leeds are to build on this season’s success, they surely need to keep their best players.

Add to their attack

Bamford has been a revelation this season, scoring 14 times and providing a further seven assists.

Having failed to impress during previous stints in the Premier League, the 27-year-old striker had his doubters coming into 2020-21.

Yet only Bruno Fernandes (16), Mohamed Salah (19) and Harry Kane (21) have scored more goals than the Leeds No9.

However, in a strange twist of fate, Bamford has simultaneously exceeded expectations while statistically underperforming at the same time. 

He tops the charts for big chances missed (18) in the Premier League this term, reinforcing the notion that Leeds create ample opportunities but are not always the most clinical in front of goal. 

With Rodrigo failing to impress since his move to England, adding another forward to ease the burden on Bamford might help them climb the table.

Tie down Harrison

Leeds will reportedly have to pay £10m to turn Jack Harrison’s loan spell into a permanent move — but the Manchester City man would be worth every penny. 

The versatile ace is in his third temporary spell with the club and has weighed in with seven Premier League goals this season. 

Keeping Marcelo Bielsa is key for the Elland Road outfit
Keeping Marcelo Bielsa is key for the Elland Road outfit

He knows Bielsa’s system and is aware of what his manager demands from wide players. 

They might be able to find cheaper alternatives elsewhere but Harrison’s experience operating under the enegmatic boss is something you cannot put a price on.

Midfield reinforcements

A midfield playmaker is high on Leeds’ shopping list — they have continuously been linked with Udinese’s Rodrigo de Paul and are believed to be interested in AZ Alkmaar maestro Teun Koopmeiners. 

Either of those would be a welcome addition in the centre of the park. 

Kalvin Phillips is the metronome for Bielsa’s side but adding someone of a similar profile will give them options. 

Trust Bielsa

The difficult second season is something that has impacted a lot of clubs. 

Following promotion, teams are relatively unknown and can use that to spring a surprise or two.

Yet after being in the top flight for a season, opponents often know what to expect and can tweak their style to combat any threat posed — just ask Sheffield United. 

Some owners get an itchy trigger finger when things are not going well. Leeds need to back Bielsa to the hilt, even if performances and results take a hit next season.

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Leeds UnitedLiverpoolPremier League

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