Gary Neville rejected £40m Leeds target Rodrigo de Paul at Valencia – but he’s now ‘unmatched’ in Europe and wanted by Roma and Fiorentina

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Gary Neville rejected £40m Leeds target Rodrigo de Paul at Valencia – but he's now ‘unmatched’ in Europe and wanted by Roma and Fiorentina

Leeds United have begun their first Premier League campaign in 16 years with a defeat and two wins, and there have been plenty of positives to take.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men fell to a 4-3 setback against defending champions Liverpool, before winning a thriller with Fulham and beating Sheffield United.

Yet, despite the positive nature of the performance, it seems as though ‘El Loco’ wants to add more quality to his ranks before the transfer window slams shut on October 5.

Getty Images – Getty

Rodrigo de Paul would add much-needed drive from midfield for Marcelo Bielsa

Rodrigo de Paul is a player whom Leeds fans will have become accustomed to hearing plenty about in recent weeks given the reported interest in the midfielder.

In fact, the Argentinean even went as far as revealing on Twitter he was interested in a move to Elland Road, before hastily deleting the Tweet.

However, Leeds are not the only side interested in sealing De Paul’s signature; Roma and Zenit St Petersburg are both interested in snaring the Udinese midfielder.

But what exactly is all the hype about and what sort of player could Whites fans expect to see if he swaps Udine for Elland Road?

‘Surprise package’ Leeds United tipped to finish above Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in Champions League race

RODRIGO DE PAUL SERIE A STATS – 19/20

The 26-year-old is a £40m-rated target for Leeds United, who wants to move to Elland Road…

  • Name: Rodrigo de Paul
  • Date of Birth: 24/5/1996 (26 years old)
  • Position: CM/CAM/RW/LW/SS
  • Height: 180cm
  • Strong foot: Right
  • Appearances: 33 (1)
  • Goals: 7
  • Assists: 6
  • Shots: 68
  • Shots on target: 29
  • Average passes per game: 47
  • Pass completion Rate: 82%
  • Yellow cards: 5
  • Red Cards: 1

What’s the gossip?

De Paul made it abundantly clear he wanted to move to Leeds, but this has not stopped rival bidders from trying to enter late on in the race.

According to Tele Radio Stereo (via Football Italia), Roma have made contact with De Paul’s representatives. The 26-year-old remains open to staying in Italy and the prospect of Europa League football could also be a draw.

Fiorentina are also interested in a potential deal, joining Zenit as well. However, it is worth noting Roma would need to sanction the sale of a midfielder before making a move.

As it stands, Elland Road is still De Paul’s favoured destination. David Ornstein of The Athletic claims Bielsa blocked a loan move for Liverpool’s Harry Wilson in order to secure his signature.

Even though Leeds are now close to wrapping up a deal for Mickael Cuisance, De Paul remains an option.

De Paul has confirmed he wants to join Leeds United

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De Paul has confirmed he wants to join Leeds United

Club career so far

Hailing from Sarandi in Greater Beunos Aires, De Paul joined Racing Club at the age of eight.

Eleven years later, he made his debut against Atletico de Rafaela after replacing Mauro Camoranesi and scored a month later.

In 2014, Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo parted with $6.5million (£5m) to bring him to Spain. However, he was sent off just on minute later.

Gary Neville loaned out the midfielder during his short stint, heading back to Racing Club for six months before joining Udinese for a reported fee of €3m (£2.73m).

Gary Neville loaned De Paul back to Racing Club in 2016

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Gary Neville loaned De Paul back to Racing Club in 2016

How much is he likely to cost?

Despite being traded for nominal fees at the start of his career, De Paul is expected to cost Leeds United an estimated €40m (£36.4m).

According to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira, Leeds had an offer of €28m (£25.5m) plus add-ons already rejected.

Udinese owner Giampoalo Pozzo is a shrewd operator in the transfer market and, given the importance of De Paul to Luca Gotti’s team, negotiations are expected to continue.

The midfielder made his name in Argentina, captaining Racing Club at 19

Getty Images – Getty

The midfielder made his name in Argentina, captaining Racing Club at 19

International experience

De Paul made his international debut in October 2018 after the disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia.

Manager Lionel Scaloni handed him his debut against Iraq and the midfielder became a permanent member of the squad which finished third at the Copa America in Chile last summer.

As it stands, he has 17 caps for his country without scoring.

Lionel Scaloni made the midfielder a regular in the Argentina side

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Lionel Scaloni made the midfielder a regular in the Argentina side

What is being said about him?

Argentina legend Juan Pablo Sorin is a big fan of the midfielder.

He said: “I like a lot but first is the personality of De Paul and Lautaro (Martinez). Argentina needs those types of players that can play under any conditions or circumstances when they haven’t played 50 games for the national team… playing with the Argentina national team just like your club, it’s complicated. They’ve done that.”

Meanwhile, Luca Gotti, the Udinese manager who made De Paul captain appears resigned to losing him.

“I personally cannot keep him in Udine,” he admitted

Juan Pablo Sorin rates his fellow countryman

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Juan Pablo Sorin rates his fellow countryman

The statistics community are also big fans of De Paul with Dan Altman, Football data expert for smarterscout, excited by the Argentine.

“There aren’t any central midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues who can match Rodrigo de Paul’s style of play and his pitch coverage,” he explained.

“He’s most active in the right channel, crossing midfield, but he can pop up almost anywhere. He’s an avid defender, and his attacking contribution is huge at a Premier League standard.

“De Paul was involved in about two thirds of Udinese’s most effective attacks, and three-quarters of their goals while on the pitch.

“He’s Argentine and has enormous output on both sides of the ball, so he seems like a great fit for Bielsa’s Leeds.”

Defensive duties are not something De Paul shirks away from

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Defensive duties are not something De Paul shirks away from

How would he fit in at Leeds United?

At perhaps any other club, it may take time for De Paul to settle as he is so versatile a new manager would be forgiven for trying him in multiple positions.

However, few would argue against Bielsa knowing exactly where he wants his compatriot to play. Even though he has played on the wings, as an attacking midfielder and even a second striker, midfield is his home.

Leeds love to play in quick transitions and move the ball quickly, with De Paul likely to play in a left-sided midfield role just alongside an anchoring player.

Staying in Italy with compatriot and friend Paulo Dybala would boost De Paul’s international chances

Getty Images – Getty

Staying in Italy with compatriot and friend Paulo Dybala would boost De Paul’s international chances

In this case, it would be Kalvin Phillips alongside the Argentine, with Jack Harrison retaining his position on the wing.

De Paul’s ability to carry from midfield and excellent passing stats make him an ideal player to draw opposition players onto him; either creating space for himself or teammates.

Udinese operated in a 3-5-2 formation, with Seko Fofana and Rolando Mandragora playing as conservative box-to-box players whilst De Paul’s creative flair was used to supplement Lasanga and Stefano Okaka up front.

Leeds’ attacking philosophy will allow the midfielder even more chance to express his abilities, whilst retaining the core fundamentals of a Bielsa said – pressing and defending from the front with infectious exuberance.

Leeds maintain a 3-3-1-3 formation when attacking, yet revert to a 4-1-4-1 in defence

buildlineup.com

Leeds maintain a 3-3-1-3 formation when attacking, yet revert to a 4-1-4-1 in defence

 




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