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Leeds could unearth their new Pablo Hernandez by signing £13m-rated "true trickster" - opinion

Football FanCast logo Football FanCast 27/11/2022 Matt Dawson
Gonzalo Plata, Leeds United, Premier League, World Cup, Ecuador. © Provided by Football FanCast Gonzalo Plata, Leeds United, Premier League, World Cup, Ecuador.

Signing a player purely based on their performances at a major tournament might not be a great idea for Leeds United and Victor Orta.

However, in the case of Gonzalo Plata, an exception has to be made.

A number of clubs, including Newcastle United, are thought to be interested in the Ecuador international with Leeds, AC Milan and Roma having looked at acquiring him in the past.

That suggests there is likely to be fierce competition for the 22-year-old when the January transfer window opens and his World Cup form would suggest a hefty fee may be required.

The Real Valladolid forward is valued at just £13m at the moment but the Spanish side might be able to bump up his price tag following what has been an impressive tournament for Plata so far.

The winger is yet to score or assist at the World Cup yet but he has seriously caught the eye and was unfortunate not to find the net in his nation’s impressive 1-1 draw with the Netherlands on Friday evening, rattling the crossbar from a rasping effort inside the box.

During that performance, Plata was a real live wire as he attempted four dribbles, four crosses, competed in nine ground duels and supplied one key pass.

The Ecuadorian talent is raw but he is incredibly exciting and once everything comes together, there is a sense his numbers will increase significantly.

This season he is yet to score in La Liga but does have two assists to his name. That adds to his tally of six goals and five assists in the second tier of Spanish football last term as he helped his club to seal promotion.

Clearly a talent with a big future, he has been described as a “true trickster” by Adrian Blanco in the opening week of the World Cup.

However, it is his ability to “pick a pass” – in the words of journalist Ben Jacobs – that should excite those back at Elland Road. Indeed, if Leeds can secure a deal for the young attacker, he could well be their next Pablo Hernandez.

Not since the Spaniard departed has the club’s management had a player who can unlock the opposition with as much regularity.

Hernandez was a cult hero for Leeds as he played a seismic role in their eventual promotion to the Premier League.

During his time in Yorkshire, the now 37-year-old scored 36 times and assisted 41 goals in 175 outings.

Like Plata, the former Swansea man was capable of playing on the flanks during his younger days in the game and possessed a similarly dazzling nature with the ball at his feet.

What the Ecuadorian can do is often mesmerising with his captivating nature having the ability to get fans off their seats, a feeling Hernandez was all too familiar with under Marcelo Bielsa.

During his best campaign at Leeds – 2018/19 – Hernandez registered a combined haul of 24 goal involvements – with his three key passes and 1.1 dribbles per game a rather insane amount.

Plata’s 1.1 key passes a match in the 2022/23 season may be someway short at this stage of his career, but his 1.8 dribbles on average prove there are similarities in the way the duo play.

Any comparison to the Spaniard is likely to get pulses racing in Leeds, with the idea of signing this World Cup star surely a mouth-watering one.



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