Over the past year, Leeds have done business with Wolverhampton Wanderers on two separate occasions.
Last summer the Whites signed Barry Douglas. The left-back looked like one of the best players in the division during his time at Wolves as he crafted 14 assists from the back, but he struggled to replicate that form during his first season at Elland Road as he created just five assists. Injuries hampered him – and it seemed as if he struggled to adapt to the new style he was being asked to play.
This summer a familiar face for Douglas joined him in Yorkshire as his former teammate Helder Costa arrived on an initial loan deal which will become permanent in 12 months time.
Sooner rather than later Leeds should lineup with both Costa and Douglas in the same starting XI, as both players can improve the other’s game.
Douglas is one of the most expansive passers from left-back in the division, and he attempts 3.2 long balls per 90 mins, with a lot of these being searching diagonal balls looking to pick out a right-winger.
Unfortunately for Douglas, Pablo Hernandez isn’t the same type of winger as Costa. Whereas the former Wolves man uses his pace to get in behind, Hernandez’ best work is done when he picks up the ball from deep and dribbles past players or picks out a pass himself.
Having Douglas play with Costa will allow a lot more of these line breaking diagonal balls to be played. The pair have a great understanding from their time together with Wolves, and Costa’s style complements the types of passes Douglas often attempts.
It’s not only the long switching balls which will help Leeds improve either. Costa’s movement at the back post also aided the full-back on his way to 14 assists in 2017/18.
Although Douglas only directly assisted the right-winger once, the 25-year-old’s ability to stretch a defence with his movement in the area opened up a lot of space for the left-back to deliver a cross that would then be finished by one of Wolves’ other talented attacking options.
There’s no reason why this can’t be replicated at Leeds, and if Bielsa utilises both players effectively, it could add an extra dynamic to his squad.