Time’s up: Leeds must ruthlessly axe £8.1m-rated man vs AVFC, Bielsa’s losing patience – opinion

After sweeping aside Southampton last time out in the Premier League, Leeds United will be looking to make it back-to-back wins when Aston Villa visit Elland Road on late Saturday afternoon.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side are still very much in the mix for a surprise European place for next season, and while the Whites boss will be reluctant to make sweeping changes to a team that just won 3-0, he should seriously consider making one key decision: dropping Jack Harrison.

The £8.1m-rated star has enjoyed an impressive season overall for Leeds, netting six times and providing a further four assists in 24 Premier League games.

However, the last three games in particular have just seen him go off the boil, so much so that Bielsa has resorted to hooking him at half-time in two of those matches.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Villa, Bielsa looked to offer Harrison a bit of support after the recent decisions to take him off early.

He said: “Harrison is a very strong player mentally. He’s a very dedicated professional and on occasions, as with all the players, I maintain a dialogue with him when I see fit.”

While the Leeds boss understandably was quick to throw his backing behind the winger, the time has come for him to be dropped from the starting line-up in place of Helder Costa.

The latter has shown real sparks of life since being introduced as a half-time substitute for Harrison in the game against Arsenal, with the Portuguese ace’s well-taken finish really setting the cat among the pigeons at the Emirates.

And then, he followed that up with another impressive second-half display against Southampton. After once again coming on for Harrison at the break, Costa picked up the assist for Stuart Dallas’ strike as the Whites went from going in at half-time at 0-0, to beating the Saints 3-0 by the end.

As well as Costa seemingly picking up his form, Harrison himself has just looked a little off the pace, with his 6.6 match rating as per Sofascore the lowest of any attacker on the pitch for the Whites.

He lost the ball a whopping 13 times in just 45 minutes of action, which is startling given that his season average for an entire game is only slightly more than that at 17.3 per match.

He also failed to provide a single key passes and attempted no shots on goal whatsoever, and there may well be an element of just fatigue creeping into his game – he has after all played in every single Premier League game this season bar one.

Clearly, Bielsa’s had enough of Harrison’s below par displays in recent games, and while it would be a ruthless call to drop him from the starting line-up compeltely, it does seem as though his time might be up for right now, especially with Costa knocking heavily on the door.