Gary Neville rejected Liverpool and Leeds target Rodrigo de Paul at Valencia – he’s now ‘unmatched’ in Europe and wanted by Inter Milan too

Summers transfers are no longer far from the minds of Premier League football clubs like Liverpool and Leeds.

They are still fighting tooth and nail to finish as high as possible in the table but they know planning must be done and Udinese midfielder Rodrigo de Paul is a target for both.

Argentine midfielder De Paul is excelling in Serie A
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De Paul is a player whom Leeds fans will have become accustomed to hearing plenty about in recent months given their reported interest in the midfielder in the last two transfer windows.

In fact, the Argentinian even went as far as revealing on Twitter he was interested in a move to Elland Road, before hastily deleting the Tweet.

However, Leeds are not the only side interested in sealing De Paul’s signature; with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds now reportedly in for his services.

But what exactly is all the hype about and what sort of player could fans expect to see if he swaps Udine for the Premier League?

Rodrigo de Paul Serie A stats – 20/21

  • Name: Rodrigo de Paul
  • Date of Birth: 24/5/1996 (26 years old)
  • Position: CM/CAM/RW/LW/SS
  • Height: 180cm
  • Strong foot: Right
  • Appearances: 23
  • Goals: 5
  • Assists: 3
  • Shots: 52
  • Shots on target: 9
  • Average passes per game: 42
  • Pass completion Rate: 72.7%
  • Yellow cards: 3
  • Red Cards: 1

What’s the gossip?

Last summer, De Paul made it abundantly clear he wanted to move to Leeds, but a transfer did not materialise with the player remaining at Udinese despite late interest from Roma and Fiorentina

Elland Road was De Paul’s favoured destination with David Ornstein of The Athletic claiming Bielsa even blocked a loan move for Liverpool’s Harry Wilson in order to secure his signature.

Now, though, it appears Liverpool and Inter Milan are in the chase with the former linked to a £26million summer bid as they attempt to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, who could leave the club on a free transfer.

Udinese, though, while conceding they are going to have trouble keeping the versatile ace, will want a little more money than that.

De Paul has confirmed he wants to join Leeds United
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Club career so far

Hailing from Sarandi in Greater Beunos Aires, De Paul joined Racing Club at the age of eight.

Eleven years later, he made his debut against Atletico de Rafaela after replacing Mauro Camoranesi and scored his first goal a month later.

In 2014, then-Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo parted with $6.5million (£5m) to take him to Spain.

He made his debut as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Sevilla, but he was sent off just one minute after entering the fray.

Gary Neville loaned out the midfielder during his short stint, sending him back to Racing Club for six months and he would later join Udinese for a reported fee of €3m (£2.73m), where he has really come to the fore.

Gary Neville loaned De Paul back to Racing Club in 2016
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How much is he likely to cost?

Having been traded for nominal fees at the start of his career, De Paul is now expected to cost around £30m.

According to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira, Leeds had an offer of €28m (£25.5m) plus add-ons last year.

And it would seem a Liverpool bid for a similar amount would get rebuffed unless given a top-up.

The midfielder made his name in Argentina, captaining Racing Club at 19
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International experience

De Paul made his international debut in October 2018 after the disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia.

Manager Lionel Scaloni handed him his debut against Iraq and the midfielder became a permanent member of the squad which finished third at the Copa America in Chile last summer.

As it stands, he has 21 caps for his country without scoring.

Lionel Scaloni made the midfielder a regular in the Argentina side
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What is being said about him?

Argentina legend Juan Pablo Sorin is a big fan of the midfielder.

He said: “I like a lot but first is the personality of De Paul and Lautaro (Martinez). Argentina needs those types of players that can play under any conditions or circumstances when they haven’t played 50 games for the national team… playing with the Argentina national team just like your club, it’s complicated. They’ve done that.”

Meanwhile, Luca Gotti, the Udinese manager who made De Paul captain appeared resigned to losing him last summer.

“I personally cannot keep him in Udine,” he admitted

Juan Pablo Sorin rates his fellow countryman
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The statistics community are also big fans of De Paul with Dan Altman, Football data expert for smarterscout, excited by the Argentine’s output in 2019/20.

“There aren’t any central midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues who can match Rodrigo de Paul’s style of play and his pitch coverage,” he explained.

“He’s most active in the right channel, crossing midfield, but he can pop up almost anywhere. He’s an avid defender, and his attacking contribution is huge at a Premier League standard.

“De Paul was involved in about two thirds of Udinese’s most effective attacks, and three-quarters of their goals while on the pitch.

“He’s Argentine and has enormous output on both sides of the ball, so he seems like a great fit for Bielsa’s Leeds.”

Defensive duties are not something De Paul shirks away from
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How would he fit in at Liverpool?

De Paul, if he does join to replace Wijnaldum, would like slot into the left side of a midfield three, his versatility, though, allows him to cover a number of roles throughout a Jurgen Klopp midfield.

Able to play as a No.8, a No.10, or on the wing, he offers exceptional tactically versatility during the transitional phases of play, moving wide if Sadio Mane comes central, or moving forward if the attackers shift wide.

Once Liverpool’s injury problems ease, it would be easy to seem him alongside both Jordan Henderson, Thiago or Curtis Jones as a No.8, while Fabinho slots in as the defensive midfielder.

His pressing, in a season which should be played with a normal calendar, could help reignite the Reds too.

Will this Liverpool side, with De Paul, be title challengers again?

How would he fit in at Leeds United?

At perhaps any other club, it may take time for De Paul to settle as he is so versatile a new manager would be forgiven for trying him in multiple positions.

However, few would argue against Bielsa knowing exactly where he wants his compatriot to play. Even though he has played on the wings, as an attacking midfielder and even a second striker, midfield is his home.

Leeds love to play in quick transitions and move the ball quickly, with De Paul likely to play in a left-sided midfield role just alongside an anchoring player.

Staying in Italy with compatriot and friend Paulo Dybala would boost De Paul’s international chances
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In this case, it would be Kalvin Phillips alongside the Argentine, with Jack Harrison retaining his position on the wing.

De Paul’s ability to carry from midfield and excellent passing stats make him an ideal player to draw opposition players onto him; either creating space for himself or teammates.

Leeds’ attacking philosophy will allow the midfielder even more chance to express his abilities outside of Udinese’s 3-5-2, whilst retaining the core fundamentals of a Bielsa side – pressing and defending from the front with infectious exuberance.

Leeds maintain a 3-3-1-3 formation when attacking, yet revert to a 4-1-4-1 in defence


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