By Noel Whelan

13th Aug, 2021 | 8:45pm

Leeds United handed 'massive blow' after Llorente injury update - Whelan

Leeds United have been dealt a “massive blow” with Diego Llorente set to miss the start of the new season, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 27-year-old had proven his worth as a first-team mainstay last season.

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference (August 12th), Marcelo Bielsa confirmed the Spaniard would miss the season opener against Manchester United.

The Argentine confirmed Llorente would likely be out for “one or two weeks more”.

The 2020 signing struggled with injury problems during the first half of last season.

However, Whelan, who now works with the Leeds United foundation, insisted fans had seen Llorente’s true ability when he finally got a run of games.

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As such, the former striker claimed he would be a “big miss” for Bielsa.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “It’s a massive blow because he was the standout in the second half of the season, in my opinion.

“He looked every bit that leader and that quality centre-half that we were all expecting when he signed for the football club.

“There was great excitement about him it took a long time to get to see him consistently.

“But when we did, we saw him grow and grow and grow. We saw him get stronger and better as the games went on.

“If you ask any Leeds United fan who watched him in that second part of the season and ask them who would be the first centre-half on the team sheet, they would say Llorente.

“I think that goes to show what a huge miss it is. But it also opens the door for other centre-halves to claim that position and making him fight for it.”

In other news, midfielder tells club he wants to quit amid Leeds United pursuit.