By Noel Whelan

5th Oct, 2021 | 6:00pm

Leeds handed double player boost after 'brilliant' Llorente development - Whelan

Noel Whelan has tipped Leeds United to turn their form around thanks to the “brilliant” return of Diego Llorente.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 28-year-old’s return would give Jamie Shackleton and Junior Firpo a “boost” in defence.

The former Real Sociedad defender grabbed the game’s only goal with an instinctive finish on 18 minutes and was named Leeds’ man of the match.

The 1-0 victory was Leeds’ first of the league campaign and has lifted them to 16th in the table.

The Spaniard completed 90% of passes attempted against Watford (WhoScored) – the highest percentage for any outfield player.

Llorente’s ball distribution was praised by Leeds ambassador Whelan.

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The ex-striker claimed the defender’s return will be a huge boost for youngsters Junior Firpo and Jamie Shackleton.

“He was brilliant. In my opinion, he’s a fantastic centre half,” Whelan told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“He’s very dominant in the air, great on the ball, drives into space when it’s available. His ball distribution is fantastic.

“On the goal, it’s about concentration – and it was like a striker’s finish the way he swivelled in a split second of reaction time.

“He provides a boost to players like Firpo and Shackleton.

“Whether you’re 21 or 29, you learn from having good, experienced players playing next to you, and that will improve you – just ask Liam Cooper and Pascal Struijk.

“He makes other players better. Everyone steps up to the mark when he’s in the side, and we’re a little bit more settled.”

Llorente joined Leeds from Real Sociedad last September for a reported £18million.

The eight-cap Spain defender has struggled with injury since signing, making just 19 Whites appearances.

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