By Noel Whelan

24th May, 2021 | 5:00pm

Whelan makes bold Rodrigo claim after brilliant end to Leeds campaign

Rodrigo will reach double figures in front of goal for Leeds United next season – even if he plays as a number 10 rather than as a striker. 

That is according to ex-Whites forward Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Leeds’ victory over West Brom at Elland Road on Sunday.

Rodrigo was on target for the fourth time in as many games as Marcelo Bielsa’s side ran out 3-1 winners on the final day of the season.

A £26million signing for Valencia last summer, the 30-year-old finished the campaign with seven goals in 26 appearances.

The 25-cap Spain international has played as both a striker and attacking-midfielder throughout 2020-21.

Whelan claims that Rodrigo could net at least 10 goals if deployed in the latter position next term.

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“There are a lot of different aspects to his game,” he told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.

“We saw that against Southampton with that pass over the top to Bamford. That was very much a number 10 type of pass.

“That’s the kind of brilliance you expect to see from your number 10. But then you see the goals he scored at Burnley, a natural finish after a great first touch.

“Then again yesterday, he was in the right place at the right time. He had that hunger and instinct to get in the box and on the end of a cross.

“There is a possibility that he could play a number nine role, yeah. But I think with [Pablo] Hernandez going, that number 10 role is his.

“He could still get into double figures from that position, easy. Even when he has an interview he says he’s a number 10 rather than a number nine.

“He’s very good at finding pockets of space and linking up play.

“He does have that forward-thinking attitude and instinct where he wants to get into the box. But he’s got too much intelligence just to be a number nine.”

In other news, Leeds United top left-back transfer target revealed after Orta-Bielsa meeting.