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Pablo Hernandez has tons of class but, at 32 years old, his one true weakness is exacerbated now and that is his pace or lack of it.
Hernandez can kill a defence with one pass but needs plenty of time on the ball by English standards to do so, making his performances a little in and out. On top of this, his fellow countryman Samu Saiz has been playing extremely well in Hernandez’s favoured No.10 role, casting the former Swansea City man out to the left of the attacking midfield three.
There is often little point in keeping a player in the wrong position just to get him on the pitch, and at this stage of Hernandez’s career, sitting on the bench every week is not an option.
Ultimately then, the question shouldn’t really be whether Leeds should sell Hernandez but rather does Hernandez want to stay?
If Thomas Christiansen has the nerve, he can keep Hernandez as a very high-class alternative to Saiz, as and when the former Huesca player is unavailable. However, with the player not likely to be happy with that option, my advice for what it’s worth would be for him to head back to Spain.
Even in La Liga, there are a number of clubs who could do with Hernandez’s talents, albeit in the bottom half of the league, where he would have more time to pick out his passes. As a bonus, he would be in the top division and would occasionally face Real Madrid and Barcelona, which would be a fitting way for him to end his career.
There is little doubt that Hernandez’s impact has been blunted this season by a change of position, allied of course with a natural slowing due to age. Last season, Hernandez managed 8 assists in 35 league games compared to just 2 in 18 this time.
His key passes (his strength) have gone from 2.7 per game to 1.9 and here’s the real kicker; playing mostly centrally, he made 2.2 crosses per game last season compared to 0.9 from a supposedly wide position this season. Put simply; he’s now wasted.
Given the choice then, Leeds should do what they can to keep hold of Hernandez and use him sparingly and play him only when they can genuinely play him in his favoured role, and not shoehorn him into the starting XI.
For the player though, I’m not certain that arrangement is best and it may well be that he instructs his agent to look for another club before too long.