He was another ‘no-name’ player when he first came to the attention of Leeds United fans when linked to the club last summer. Now Samu Saiz is a player that fans clamour to one of the first names on the team sheet.

When links with the diminutive Spanish forward came to the attention of Whites fans, it was a scurry to YouTube and preferred search engines to glean whatever information they could about Saiz. Such searches would have uncovered that he was coming off of a decent enough season with former side SD Huesca.

During Huesca’s charge up the La Liga 2 table, Saiz played a vital role in performances that drove the Aragon-based side to the play-offs and the brink of promotion to La Liga proper. It wasn’t to be and Huesca’s misfortune proved to be Leeds United’s luck with Saiz arriving as one of the Whites’ marquee summer signings.

He arrived from Huesca’s ‘nearly’ season with 12 goals and eight assists to his name, with his £3 million arrival at Elland Road marking the first time he’s played football outside of his native Spain. He’s not doing too shabbily in the Sky Bet Championship either, having scored five goals, provided five assists and won many plaudits.

Saiz is two games back into the football fray after a six-game suspension for spitting during Leeds’ 2-1 FA Cup loss to Newport County. The Whites missed his flair and creativity, but now the diminutive Spanish magician is back and pulling the strings behind the Leeds United attacking line.

In the 1-0 win over Brentford last time out, a game which Saiz started, there were more than fleeting glimpses that he is quickly getting back to his imperious self. He was a marked man with two Brentford defenders openly clinging on to his shirt to prevent him running beyond them. Like a magnet, that both attracts and repels at the same time, Saiz draws defenders towards him who seem to stop and hover at a safe distance – unsure whether to step in or not.

They say that you are only as good as your last game, if that’s the case then Saiz (below) had a very good game pulling the strings in the 1-0 Leeds United win against a more-than-handy Brentford – Leeds’ first win of 2018.

Samu Saiz versus Brentford
Saiz versus Brentford

Credit: Squawka.com

During the Brentford game, Saiz proved hard to get to grips with, unless you count actually grabbing on to his shirt by despairing Brentford defenders. He had a pass completion accuracy of 84% against the Londoners, missing only five of his regular passing attempts in the game.

Such is the strength of his passing that he also managed to create three of Leeds’ six chances in the game – as shown on the above graphic. He also hit 20 of his passes (62.5%) with a destination of the final third of the field, this showing the way that he drives the Whites forward.

The story so far – headline stats from Samu Saiz’s 2017/18 Championship campaign (per 90 minutes)
  • 35.6 attempted passes – 27.2 completed – 76.4% accuracy
  • 2.3 chances/key passes leading to shots
  • 2.3 shots
  • 4.2 dribbles attempted – 2.7 completed – 64% success rate
  • 6 possession losses – 3.5 poor touches – 2.5 dispossessed in tackle

With Saiz back in the side, and driving Leeds United forward, suddenly the five point and goal difference gap to the play-offs doesn’t look that forlorn, nor that far away.

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Cynicism turned to optimism but without the woop woops and ringing bells. Leeds United supporter through thick and thin, more thin than anything recently. Write mainly about the Whites but turn my hand to other clubs. Lover of salted crisp sandwiches. Not a hipster.

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