Ex-manager makes 'massive' Rodrigo prediction ahead of big summer at Leeds

Alex McLeish has tipped Rodrigo to play a “massive” role for Leeds United next season after a frustrating first year in England.

The former Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Spain international needed a full pre-season under Marcelo Bielsa to produce his best form at Elland Road.

The 30-year-old scored his first goal since December after coming on as a substitute in the 3-1 win over Tottenham.

Rodrigo joined Leeds for a record-breaking fee back in late August, two weeks before the start of the Premier League season.

The Spain international has suffered with several injury niggles this term, including a groin problem which kept him out for all of February.

McLeish suggested a full pre-season would ensure Leeds fans would see the best of the attacker next season.

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Asked how big a part he thought Rodrigo would play next season, McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Massive. That’s massive, the pre-season element, for every player.

I always felt when I had a disrupted pre-season, it took me about a month, six weeks to get to full speed again. I always did a little bit on my holidays. But I remember one season saying I’m going to have a break. It had been a tough season.

“I did nothing, then went back to pre-season and pulled a muscle early doors. I was playing catch up for a month or so. You need a full pre-season behind you the way that Bielsa trains these guys.

“In terms of hunting down of opposition as soon as they lose a ball, it doesn’t matter which side of the pitch. It can be high up, it can be in the midfield and it can be in the backline. These players have to be of a certain fitness.”

Rodrigo has started just 12 times in 23 league appearances for Leeds this season.

He has played primarily as an attacking midfielder behind first-choice striker Patrick Bamford.

In other news, Leeds United plotting raid to sign 19-goal striker sensation.