Leeds United will be playing a very distinct style of football this season and Vurnon Anita could be crucial.
The Dutch international joined Leeds in July 2017 from Newcastle United, where he had played the whole Championship season at right-back and impressed enough that earned his move to Elland Road.
Last season the 29-year-old played the majority of his games either at left-back or at right-back and made a few defensive errors during the season which led to some fans wanting him out this summer after the arrival of Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa and Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Phil Hay reporting via his personal Twitter account that the Whites are looking to sell him.
However, the former Ajax player’s best position is in defensive midfield. That’s where he built his reputation and his career, he was a very good passer of the ball and would control games from deeper positions. Even though he’s capable at full-back, it seems like some of his recent managers have just played him there because they assumed that was his position.
In the 2013/14 Premier League season, Anita played in defensive midfield for The Magpies and made 36 appearances. His pass percentage was a whopping 83.8% and made an average of 39.7 passes per game (WhoScored).
In last seasons Championship campaign, playing at full-back, Anita’s average passes per game fell to 29 and the pass completion was only 79%, because he’s playing out of his natural position (WhoScored).
His performances in midfield made the Toon pay Ajax £7.65million for his services in 2012, which further underlines where the position where he should be playing (TransferMarkt).
New Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa loves technical midfielders who can pass the ball quickly and accurately, sitting in front of the back-four or back-three and controlling the game from that area. This is Anita’s natural role and yet he’s being shoved out to full-back, probably because of his lack of physicality.
The Argentinian won’t care about physical size or strength one bit, if he’s seen what Anita can do in training, he could be a vital player for Leeds in this upcoming season. Provided that he plays in his correct position that is.