In-form Rodrigo possibly worth a Dream Team punt given Leeds' favourable fixtures | The Sun

ANY Dream Team manager worth their salt should be able to distinguish between any given player's form and the fortunes of the club they represent.

While it's true that individuals contracted to the top clubs tend to produce more points over the course of a season, only a fool would disregard all assets in the bottom half of the Premier League entirely.

Take Rodrigo (£3.8m) for example.

Jesse Marsch has had about as much luck solving Leeds' defensive problems as Marcelo Bielsa did during his final weeks in Yorkshire.

However, the American head coach has unquestionably got the best out of the Whites' second-most expensive signing, as evidenced by the Dream Team rankings.

In his first two seasons at Elland Road, Rodrigo mustered 13 goals in all competitions from 62 appearances.

This campaign, he's scored 11 goals in 18 outings.

In Dream Team money, he's got 79 points which is currently enough to grant him a place among the top ten assets in his position.

One of the reasons for this uplift is that he has generally been deployed as a genuine striker this term where before he was utilised as a No10, particularly under El Loco.

But the role change alone does not account for such a dramatic improvement in attacking output.

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Leeds are leaky at the back but they average 1.5 goals per game themselvesCredit: getty

Marsch quickly decided to install the Spain international as a dressing room leader upon his appointment following Bielsa's exit and the show of faith has likely been a contributing factor to Rodrigo's increased confidence in front of goal.

Where before he tended to snatch at chances, he now hits the target more regularly while still striking the ball with plenty of power.

The ex-Valencia forward's form was so poor during the final days of the old regime that it would have been understandable had Marsch decided to make him a periphery figure or push for a sale.

The Red Bull Salzburg tactician still has much to work on if he's to last on these shores but he can count the rise of Rodrigo as one of his big wins.

Dream Team bosses shouldn't touch Leeds defenders with a barge pole but they would do well to consider Rodrigo's viability at the very least.

After coming off the bench to score against Cardiff in the FA Cup on Sunday, the 31-year-old has registered 25 points in his last five appearances – a run that includes fixtures against Spurs, Man City and Newcastle.

The less said about his penalty miss in Wales the better.

Looking forward, there could be more points to come as Leeds have a relatively favourable run until the end of February.

They take on Aston Villa this Friday before hosting Cardiff in a FA Cup replay, making Game Week 18 a double.

Rodrigo then faces Brentford, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Everton and Southampton before the start of March.

The Red Devils aside, that's a tempting string of fixtures – three of those teams are currently below Leeds in the table.

Erling Haaland (£9m), Harry Kane (£7.4m), Ivan Toney (£5.3m) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (£5.4m) are the only players to have scored more Premier League goals than Rodrigo's ten in 2022/23.

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And at the time of writing he appears in just 1.8% of teams, meaning it's unlikely your mini-league rivals are backing him.

Those searching for some short-term gains that may escape the attention of their mates would do well to consider taking a punt on Rodrigo during his favourable run of fixtures.

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