Why Leeds United should reignite interest in Rodrigo de Paul
Rodrigo de Paul to Leeds United was one of the most talked-about transfer sagas in the summer window but a move to Elland Road never quite materialised for the Argentine international.
The 26-year-old was interested in a move to West Yorkshire and even went as far as to agree personal terms with the Whites (La Repubblica h/t Leeds Live). But he was eventually forced to stay put at Udinese after the newly-promoted Premier League club failed to match the Serie A outfit’s daunting €40million asking price. (Messaggero Veneto h/t Leeds Live)
A youth exponent of Racing Club in Argentina, Rodrigo de Paul made his senior debut for his boyhood club during the 2012-13 season and went on to make over 50 appearances in all competitions before earning a move to Europe with La Liga outfit Valencia in 2014.
However, the attacking midfielder struggled to acclimatise to life in Spain and was loaned back to his former club for the latter half of the 2015-16 campaign. De Paul completed a permanent transfer to Udinese in the summer of 2016 and has since gone on to carve out a big reputation for himself as a top-quality creative midfielder in Italy.
The 26-year-old has accumulated an impressive tally of 25 goals and 25 assists in 150 appearances for Udinese in all competitions so far. A full international for Argentina since 2018, De Paul has 19 caps under his belt and helped his nation to a third-place finish at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil.
De Paul would add more depth and quality to the Leeds attack
Leeds United roped in the likes of Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia and Raphinha from Stade Rennes following their promotion to the top-flight. Rodrigo has already made a positive impression in the Premier League but it goes without saying that the Whites still lack adequate depth in their creative midfield options.
There are serious doubts over whether Pablo Hernandez would be able to cope with the challenge of playing a prominent role in the Premier League. The Spaniard has previous experience at this level with Swansea but he’s already 35 and has struggled with injuries.
Tyler Roberts and Rodrigo are both capable of playing in that No.10 role but the former lacks enough experience while the latter’s qualities are undoubtedly better utilised in front of goal. To that end, Leeds United making a renewed attempt to sign Rodrigo de Paul during the January window would surely put an end to their squad depth issues.
Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, De Paul is versatile enough to play out wide on either flank. A potential deal for the Argentine wizard would, therefore, offer Bielsa with quality cover in more than one area across the final third.
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The 26-year-old boasts a proven track record of goals and assists in the Serie A while still having his best years ahead of him. He’s still very much at a good age and looks more than capable of thriving in the Premier League. Plus, the presence of his compatriot Bielsa at Elland Road is likely to make it easier for him to acclimatise to life in West Yorkshire.
All in all, Leeds shouldn’t hesitate to test Udinese’s resolve with a handsome bid during the mid-season trading period.