Leeds United striker Rodrigo’s chances of heading to the European Championships with Spain are in doubt if he doesn’t up his performances this season.
That’s the view in Spain today, with AS journalist Jonah Perez looking at the player’s situation at Elland Road and explaining how he finds himself needing to prove more if he is to be in Spain’s squad this summer.
Rodrigo was a big-money arrival from Valencia in the summer, with Leeds paying a club-record fee to bring the striker to England and give Marcelo Bielsa the goalscorer he craved.
He’s yet to really get going, though, with three goals and one assist in 21 games in all competitions far from the numbers Leeds were expecting.
Indeed, his performances have been somewhat lacking and, according to Perez, this could see him miss out in the summer.
He explains that Rodrigo’s main problem is that he ‘offers lights and shadows’ while his main competitors in the Spain squad, Alvaro Morata, Iago Aspas and Gerard Moreno, are the ‘undisputed leaders’ of their teams.
This is partly Bielsa’s fault, apparently, as he has been using Rodrigo as more of a number ten than the ‘offensive reference’.
That should have been ideal for the striker to ‘exploit his virtues’, but he has instead struggled with the physical football in the Premier League and ‘situations’ he is not accustomed to.
It’s claimed that this, plus a change in position, has ‘significantly complicated’ the player’s day to day life.
That’s not the only issue for him at Leeds either, with their expectations given his transfer fee and the face they are a ‘crazy team’ who are capable of ‘the best and the worst’ means it’s been hard for Rodrigo to prove himself.
That is not a problem his competition have, with Morata a key player for Juventus, Moreno one of La Liga’s ‘sensations’ and Aspas the star of the show at Celta Vigo.
Add on top of that the likes of Ferran Torres, Mike Oyarzabal and Ansu Fati, all seen as the new generation ready to replace the older group, which Rodrigo is very much part of.
Perez says as he ‘searches for his place in England’, that ‘time is ticking’ for him as the competition closes in.
If he is to make the Euros, he needs to settle in his position, hit the target more often and offer Luis Enrique the guarantee of a versatile player who can fill different roles.
If he can’t, he is likely to be supplanted, which would be a big fall for a player who seemed to be one of the ‘undisputed’ names for his country before the start of the season.