Leeds United's Samuel Saiz taking Elland Road by storm
By Tom Mordey
Last Updated: 01/12/17 9:37am
New faces arrived at Elland Road from all over in the summer, but one signing from Spain has been a massive hit so far at Leeds.
Samuel Saiz arrived from the Spanish second division club Huesca for £3m after scoring 12 goals last season, with Leeds beating stiff competition from several La Liga clubs to land their man.
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The first glimpse of him came in a Carabao Cup match against Port Vale in early August as he thumped in a hat-trick, although that display was tainted by the opposition manager Michael Brown accusing him of spitting.
But Saiz was cleared and went on to start imposing himself more and more in league games. He scored the first in a 2-0 win at Sunderland and was on target against Birmingham as Leeds marched to the top of the Championship table. In the home 5-0 win over Burton, Saiz produced a majestic performance, combining with Pablo Hernandez, to pull the Albion defence all over the pitch as Leeds ran riot.
Even as results dried up for Leeds, Saiz continues to impress. Moved to a wider position against Bristol City so Thomas Christiansen could bolster Leeds' midfield, he made an instant impact there too, scoring twice in a 3-0 win; the team's only victory as they lost five out of six league games. Even at Hillsborough, where Leeds were hammered 3-0, Saiz was impressive, tearing Sheffield Wednesday's defence to shreds in an opening 25 minutes overshadowed by the miserable 65 that followed.
At Wolves last week, Leeds were taught a footballing lesson, and yet Saiz still found it in his locker to conjure a sumptuous assist for Ezgjan Alioski. Back now in his familiar role in the No 10 position, Saiz impressed again at Barnsley, scoring the opener in that 2-0 win.
Saiz matters for Leeds
|Leeds ranking||Ch'ship ranking|
|Chances created: 38||1||4|
|Dribbles success: 46.27%||1||=13th|
The Spaniard is also more physical than his slight frame suggests; indeed there's no shirking challenges and Saiz certainly makes his feelings known if he's unhappy, be it at the referee or with his fellow team-mates. And the pressure is mounting on him to deliver in every game too.
It's Aston Villa next for Leeds, live on Sky Sports Football, and another chance for Saiz to showcase his playmaking talents. Leeds are currently three points behind Derby in the last play-off position and they have taken six points from their last three games, with wins over Middlesbrough and Barnsley helping Christiansen's side turn a corner.
The jury is still out on plenty of Leeds' summer signings, but Saiz is emerging as one of the league's best playmakers, and he can continue to enhance his reputation beyond the Elland Road terraces on Friday night.
Don't miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Leeds and Aston Villa on Friday night, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm.