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Leeds United’s 19-year-old starlet Ronaldo Vieira has a massive future ahead of him whatever happens in the Championship this season, but the question now is, should his club be making more use of him right now?
The answer for many a Leeds fan is an unequivocal ‘yes’, given that at just 18 years of age, he has shown his ability to run the midfield from central midfield, against a good level of opposition. In a year which saw Leeds finish just outside the play-off positions in 7th place, Vieira played 34 times and averaged over 80% pass completion while picking up just 4 yellow cards.
His performances drew the attention of the England national set-up, with his reward being 6 caps for the under-20 side to this point, though he is seen at St George’s Park as someone for the future as far as the senior team goes.
Vieira has not been relied upon too much this term under new man Thomas Christiansen given the form of the likes of Kalvin Phillips and that didn’t seem like such a bad thing at first. After a more than promising start which saw the Yorkshire side top the table though, their form has dipped in recent weeks with just one win in 5 games recorded in all competitions.
The major problem seems to be away from home, where, including the cup game at Burnley, Leeds have not won in over 4 games of regulation time. The way they were overrun against both Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday suggests that they are not title contenders until they can control the midfield away from their own patch, against the better sides; something I’ve no doubt Vieira can help with.
He may be young and I would never advocate throwing people in too early in this game, but Vieira’s sheer physical presence and athleticism make him a midfield powerhouse and that sort of aura is a hard one to keep out of a side for too long at this level.
Albeit against lower ranked opposition, Leeds scored 7 goals in 3 games away from home at the start of the season and still possess some pretty decent defenders, most notably Pontus Jansson. The problem therefore remains central midfield and given their form of late, it would seem ridiculous on their part to not to include Vieira in the starting XI after end of the international break.
Time will tell which way Christiansen chooses to go, but if he continues to ignore Vieira in favour of others, it is easy to envisage a scenario in which Premier League teams come sniffing around for him in January.