By Noel Whelan

31st Jul, 2021 | 9:53am

Whelan thrilled by what he's seen from Llorente as Leeds footage emerges

Noel Whelan has backed Diego Llorente to play a key role for Leeds United next season after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker suggested the centre-back had returned to Elland Road “hungry” and with a “really good mindset”.

The 27-year-old, who was away on international duty with Spain earlier this summer, played 45 minutes against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

He was partnered alongside Pascal Struijk at the heart of the defence before being replaced by Luke Ayling.

Llorente suffered a tumultuous first season at Elland Road as injuries plagued his campaign.

However, Whelan suggested the Spaniard could be one of the first names on Marcelo Bielsa’s team sheet next season.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Very committed, very professional.

“I think after how well he finished the season off and away with Spain at the Euros, he’s coming back in a really good mindset. It looks like he’s hungry and he’s ready to get going.

“A lot of expectation on him for the second season after what we saw at the back end of last year. He got that really good run of games after being in and out of the side with niggling injuries and Covid etcetera.

“We saw really good blossoming partnership, whether that be with Struijk or with Cooper. There’s a good little battle going on there.

“In my opinion, right now, he’s the one that you know has got himself bedded in there. He looks a really talented player.

“Very athletic, great in the air and very comfortable with the ball at his feet. He looks hungry and that’s a great sign.”

In other news, Football Insider has delivered major update on Leeds United bid to sign Yorkshire-based midfielder.