The winger has been Leeds United’s best player for much of this season and has won his first caps for Brazil, making a good impression at international level. But whether it is his heavy workload catching up with him or just the vagaries of form, the 25-year-old’s levels have dipped.
He was substituted at half-time against Everton, and dropped for the match against Manchester United. He scored an equaliser from the bench against the Red Devils but it did not seem to improve him against Liverpool, where his only real impact was a disallowed goal when he strayed offside. He was also criticised for leaving right-back Stuart Dallas exposed as Liverpool won the penalty from which they opened the scoring.
“When he had to defend, he defended always,” said Bielsa of the Brazilian’s performance in the 6-0 mauling, “better in the second half than in the first.
“With regards to his unbalancing offensively, he had occasions where he could impose his ability but he was very isolated without the capacity to combine in attack, with the only option being the individual resolution.
“It was very difficult for us to combine and to offer company to our attackers. They were very isolated.”
Bielsa also noted: “We have been struggling to sustain what we want to do for the duration of the game” but stressed it was not a fitness issue.
“I know the players give their maximum – you can see it in the intensity and all the data that comes out of the game,” he said. “If a coach has at his disposal the effort the team can give, it is very clear that my responsibility increases and I can’t redirect it toward anyone but myself.
“The players, the dedication to what they do – the players are in agreement about what they do, they express it through their effort and their intensity and that’s a value that up until now, the team conserves.
“What I achieved for a long time through the base of effort and the willingness to play games on an even keel, I’ve not been able to achieve it in this moment.”
Leeds will look to bounce back from three consecutive defeats, in which they have conceded 13 goals, against Spurs on Saturday.