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Villarreal should continue their search amid transfer links with Leeds United star

The Yellows may search for more forward depth amid speculation over Nicolas Jackson’s future

West Ham United v Leeds United - Premier League
Rodrigo is Leeds’ top scorer this season
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Gerard Moreno, when healthy, is a wonder to behold. Unfortunately, that ‘when healthy’ has become more and more of an issue as the seasons go by, with the star man only appearing in half of Villarreal’s La Liga matches this season. Naturally, then, talk of a replacement has been circulating in the media, and this time it is former Valencia man Rodrigo Moreno’s turn to fill the transfer rumour mill.

With his currently club, Leeds United, facing possible relegation out of the English Premier League, and the fact that Rodrigo was signed for a manager and a play style that have now long since departed, a move for him this summer seems very likely. I do not think the current links are strong enough to warrant high expectations of his arrival, but we’ll briefly discuss what he does as a player anyway.

Rodrigo Moreno is an excellent overall footballer who is basically useless to Villarreal. I am sure that many will rush to point out that he has 13 goals this season in the Premier League for Leeds United, but he’s accomplished this by nearly doubling his expected goals. Some finishers outperform their xG every season, Lionel Messi is usually in this category. Rodrigo is not such a player. He normally scores right in line with his xG, and the only other time in his life he scored double digit league goals in a top five league he followed that campaign with the worst finishing season of his life.

He works hard defensively, and is an effective presser, and he is a good enough passer of the ball that he has spent time at central midfield, defensive midfield, and wingback. All of that versatility speaks well of him as an overall footballer but I do not think he is good enough at any of those positions to be a starter here. He is 32 years old so he is not likely to get better, and couched in a discussion of being a fill in or replacement for Gerard Moreno, who is a devastatingly good goalscorer (in addition to being able to do all the creative things Rodrigo brings to the table and then some), the comparison just does not make much sense.

If Unai Emery were still the manager at Villarreal, this sort of Swiss army knife of a player who defends well might make sense to me as a rotational piece. For Quique Setien’s Villarreal and at the probable wage cost involved, I don’t want anything to do with it, especially as the roster has enough players well into their thirties already.