It was thought at the time to be one of the transfers of the summer in the EFL, but attacker Hélder Costa’s move from Premier League Wolves to Elland Road is yet to have the desired effect.
Having been a key part of Wanderers’ return to English football’s top flight in the 2017/18 campaign, and receiving the club’s Player of the Year award a season earlier, Costa is seen as a top Championship performer and certainly had United fans excited upon his arrival.
The former Benfica and Monaco man joined Leeds on an initial loan for the season which will then turn into a permanent deal next summer.
So what’s going wrong for the winger/forward? Though he’s started the last three games, Costa hasn’t always been a regular inclusion in Bielsa’s first eleven up to now. He’s not quite had the impact he, his manager and the supporters are looking for. Yet.
Things will surely turn for the former Portuguese youth international. There could be a few factors behind his early-season dip in form. Perhaps Costa has not quite settled on a personal level. Moving to a new city, a new area and without the familiar friend’s network of old can take a little time to adjust to.
Tactically too, things also take a little while to fall into place. Marcelo Bielsa may be asking the winger to do things slightly differently to his previous boss Nuno Espirito Santo, things that may not come naturally and require some patience to see bear fruit.
With Leeds often dominating possession and opposing teams sitting deep, behind the ball, Costa is unable to use his electrifying pace to get in behind the defence. It’s noticeable how much of his success at Wolves came on the counter-attack, where he was able to run into space and hurt teams on the break.
Wolves are more of a counter-attacking side than Bielsa’s Leeds though, and both manager and player will have to analyse how to get the best out of Costa for the long-term good of the team.
However, it’s never straightforward when it comes to understanding why a player is not performing to his capabilities, especially one that’s recently moved clubs.
Costa is a fantastic player, and United fans perhaps just need to show a little patience during the adjustment phase before they see what the winger can really do.