Leeds United gave an incredible account of themselves over the weekend as they held Manchester City to a draw at Elland Road.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been amongst the best teams in the world over the past few seasons, and United made life very hard for them on Saturday.
One of the brightest sparks from that game was undoubtedly Ian Poveda.
The 20-year-old’s showing earned him a lot of praise, with former United star Danny Mills describing him as ‘really sharp’.
Unfortunately, it now seems as though he’s going to slip down the pecking order at Elland Road after the £17m deadline day signing of Raphinha.
Poveda was already second-choice on the right wing behind Helder Costa, and now he may now find first-team minutes incredibly hard to come by after Raphinha’s arrival, because you don’t sign someone for £17m to leave them rotting on the bench.
Unfortunately, Poveda isn’t likely to take too kindly to this decision as he has a history of kicking off over things like this.
The Athletic have reported on multiple occasions that he was annoyed by Pep Guardiola’s decision to move him back to the Under-23s after a short spell with the first-team, before eventually deciding to find a new club due to this treatment unsettling him.
Poveda wasn’t happy playing second fiddle to Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling at the Etihad, three players who have all picked up either PFA Player of the Year or Young Player of the Year awards in recent times.
Costa and Raphinha aren’t on the same level as the likes of Mahrez and Sterling, yet Poveda is likely to be asked to deputise behind them for the remainder of the season.
Marcelo Bielsa needs to make sure he caters for Poveda’s needs, whether that’s continuing to offer him substitute appearances, rotating him in cup games or even playing him in a different position, because the youngster’s acrimonious Man City exit indicates that he could easily become unsettled if his role at the club is reduced.
If Bielsa doesn’t strike the right balance and Poveda becomes unhappy that would be an unforgivable error because he looks ready to be an absolute star at Elland Road for years to come.
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