I’d Radebe Leeds started an important movement this week – getting Leeds United to tie down Pablo Hernandez to a new contract. #PayForPablo
Use the hashtag and get involved! pic.twitter.com/lWUfJcAitg
— I’d Radebe Leeds (@Radebe_Leeds) March 7, 2018
Decision time on Hernandez
With almost nothing left to play for, and with performances at their lowest ebb of the season, it’s hard to feel optimistic.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t start looking to the future. Despite seemingly focussing a lot of his attention on perceived Financial Fair Play issues, Andrea Radrizanni should be laying the foundations for a more streamlined and successful summer.
The main issue? Our most consistently creative player is out of contract in 3 months.
Pablo Hernandez has proven over the past two seasons that he is one of the most dangerous creative players in the Championship. The Spaniard has 6 goals and 6 assists in all competitions, and that’s in a side that has flattered to deceive.
One possible reason for Hernandez’s contract situation is his age. At 32, it’s unlikely that we’re going to be offering him a long-term deal. But his age is largely irrelevant.
Hernandez doesn’t rely on pace to beat players, nor is he a player who needs a tremendous amount of stamina to compete. In short bursts of skill, he comes alive. So he isn’t likely to suffer from the sort of issues that a pacey winger might in the twilight of their career.
Another factor could be that Samuel Saiz is the first choice in his preferred position. While some of Pablo’s best performances have come from the left of the attacking trio, it requires more defensive responsibility. There’s an argument to be made that both Hernandez and Saiz should have creative freedom, interchanging at will. Perhaps that’s a more realistic solution.
A lot of the creative burden has fallen on the former Spanish international midfielder this season. I get the sense that he’s the type of player that relishes that responsibility. What he won’t relish, is the lack of contribution from most of the squad.
A constantly changing starting line-up has hindered any sense of momentum. That will be a frustration for Hernandez because, at 32, he’s looking for one last chance at a promotion tilt.
His set-piece delivery is something we can’t afford to live without. Despite having a set-piece coach, in Gianni Vio, we rarely create good opportunities. The difference Pablo makes is noticeable. Every free-kick and corner becomes a chance.
It’s a cliche, but the experience is pivotal in football. In a side that is largely young or inexperienced in the Championship, Hernandez is the only regular in the first team over 30.
He’s a leader on the pitch. Perhaps not in the ‘vocal’ sense, but he leads by example. There was a moment against Wolves where he got the ball on the right-hand side and was being marked tightly by two defenders. At 2-0 down, and (Leeds) having created nothing all game, he ran at their defence and found space.
That’s Hernandez’s impact in microcosm. He works tirelessly, he is one of the most supremely talented players in recent years, and he’s probably the most intelligent since we were in the Premier League. He’s almost too good. And with Garry Monk now at Birmingham City, you have to wonder whether he’ll be making an attempt to sign his former player.
That’s why Leeds United need give Pablo Hernandez a new contract. There’s a lot of issues to sort out at the club, but this should be the most straightforward decision of all.
Let us know your thoughts, using #PayForPablo