Leeds manager Bielsa compares Dallas to Argentina legend Zanetti
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa says utility man Stuart Dallas is like Argentina and Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti -who he managed at Newell’s Old Boys 30 years ago
- Stuart Dallas has enjoyed a fantastic first season in the Premier League at Leeds
- The midfielder recently scored a brace in their win over Manchester City
- Manager Marcelo Bielsa has compared him to his former player Javier Zanetti
Stuart Dallas is known as the Cookstown Cafu in his native Northern Ireland but now Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has compared the versatile midfielder to Argentina legend Javier Zanetti.
Dallas has enjoyed an outstanding first season in the Premier League and scored both Leeds goals in last weekend’s shock 2-1 win at champions-elect Manchester City.
The Ulsterman celebrates his 30th birthday on Monday and has been likened by Bielsa to former Inter Milan midfielder Zanetti and Julio Saldana, a member of his title-winning side at Newell’s Old Boys 30 years ago.
Stuart Dallas has enjoyed a successful first season in the Premier League with Leeds
Bielsa has compared Dallas to Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti due to his versatility
Bielsa, whose men host Liverpool at Elland Road on Monday night, said: ‘I had a player like Dallas before in Javier Zanetti — and Julio Saldana when I had my first experience of management at Newell’s Old Boys.
‘Those two players are very like Dallas in terms of their versatility. Dallas is a very potent, powerful player and can play with either foot.
‘He’s good at defending and has the capacity to make runs that allow him to flourish in the middle. He has a change of rhythm and surprise when he attacks. It’s very difficult to find all of that in just one player.
‘In the majority of the games that the team have played, he has been one of our best players.’
Dallas’s performances at full back and in the centre of midfield are characterised by a relentless work-rate and he has scored seven Premier League goals this season. He is currently being deployed in front of England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, in the advanced position previously taken by Poland star Mateusz Klich.
Bielsa explained: ‘The place that Dallas occupies at the moment is the role that Klich usually has. When Dallas started to play in this position he started to show different ways of playing it.
‘To score goals was a clear expectation when he started to play in this position and, as the minutes go by, he manages to have a marked influence or definition in finishing our chances.
Bielsa coached Zanetti (pictured at Inter Milan) when he managed Newell’s Old Boys
‘In this sense it’s something that’s a novelty but, even though it’s a novelty, it’s within his capabilities as he’s managed to maintain it.’
Leeds are buoyant after winning against leaders City at the Etihad — a result which encouraged hopes of a top-half finish in the Premier League for the first time in 19 seasons.
They are bidding to win their fourth Premier League game in a row for the first time since 2001.
Bielsa, meanwhile, has yet to commit his future to the club beyond this season but is expected to agree a new deal shortly.
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