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Phil Hay pulls no punches in assessing Rodrigo failure as he turns Leeds relegation heat on three men

Teamtalk logo Teamtalk 14/05/2022 James Marshment
Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds Utd forward © PA Images Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds Utd forward

Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani and his board will have serious questions to answer this summer, with the signing of Rodrigo just one of several failures the club has overseen.

The Yorkshire side made an excellent return to the top flight after a 16-year absence last season, finishing ninth and earning widespread acclaim for their football. But their second season has been a totally different story and the club has two games left to ensure their survival.

Leeds face Brighton on Sunday and Brentford on the final day knowing even two wins might not be enough to survive. Currently sat in the relegation places, Jesse Marsch knows exactly what is at stake in their final matches.

And having lost their last three games and losing a raft of players to injury and suspension, the odds are stacked against Leeds. Even if they did pull off survival, Radrizzani, director of football, Victor Orta, and chief executive Angus Kinnear have overseen a diabolical campaign.

Their failure to strengthen the squad in January amid a crippling injury crisis will leave them facing some tough questions.

In addition, the way Leeds have invested their money has not produced the results expected.

In a discussion on The Athletic on Leeds’ plight, Hay reserved particular condemnation for Rodrigo.

The Spain forward was signed in a club-record £27m deal from Valencia in summer 2020. And while he played well in fits and starts last season, he has badly struggled in his second season at Elland Road.

‘I can’t work out what Rodrigo is’

Now Hay has turned the heat on Rodrigo and questioned what he brings to Leeds United.

“My criticism more and more is that the impact of that investment just hasn’t been felt. Not enough of their signings have made a difference,” he said.

“Even on Wednesday, watching Rodrigo against Chelsea, I still can’t work out what he is. Where does he really fit in and is he ever going to work. That’s a £27million player.

“But in terms of who’s responsible, I honestly think the blame is collective and the factors are numerous.

“Nothing has gone right and given that [Marcelo] Bielsa has already been sacked, it’s the board who are going to face the questions.”

Victor Orta has made serious transfer mistakes

It’s not just the signing of Rodrigo which has let Leeds down.

Indeed, arguably the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn, says only the signing of Raphinha will be noted as a success since Leeds’ promotion.

Furthermore, serious questions need asking about another struggler, Junior Firpo.

He was signed in a £13m deal from Barcelona last summer but has rarely impressed in a Leeds shirt. Indeed, he’s also collected a massive 10 yellow cards from just 23 Premier League appearances.

By contrast, Brighton last summer Marc Cucurella from Getafe for just £15m. He’s been an excellent signing for Graham Potter’s side, recently being named their player of the year.

His energentic displays down the flank have caught the eye for the Seagulls. Cucurella has also played a big part in their comfortable position of ninth in the table.

Surely this is a player Orta should have looked at signing instead? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, admittedly, but decent research would have shown how good a player Cucurella is. And it’s little surprise to see him linked with a big-money move to Tottenham.

By contrast, what would Firpo go for if he were to leave Leeds this summer?

Meanwhile, an injury expert is tipping Patrick Bamford to have an impact for Leeds in their final two games.

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