Marcelo Bielsa compares Stuart Dallas to Argentina legend Javier Zanetti

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Stuart Dallas celebrates after scoring for Leeds United against Manchester City
Photo: @LUFC

Stuart Dallas has been likened by Marcelo Bielsa to former Argentina and Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti because of his versatility.

The Northern Ireland international joined Leeds United for a little over £1 million from Brentford back in 2015, and nearly six years later is one of the club's Premier League stars.

A strong contender for Leeds' Player of the Year, Dallas has enjoyed an outstanding first season in the top flight and underlined his worth by scoring both the Whites' goals in last weekend's 2-1 win at leaders Manchester City.

Known as the "Cookstown Cafu" in his native County Tyrone, the 29-year-old has been compared to Argentina legend Zanetti for his ability to perform at a high level in numerous positions.

Right-back, left-back, wing-back, defensive midfield and attacking midfield - it doesn't matter, Dallas is starring in all roles.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Argentine boss spoke of his delight with how Dallas keeps surprising him with his ability to play in multiple positions.

I've previously had a player like this. He reminds me of Javier Zanetti and Julio SaldaƱa, someone I managed at Newell's Old Boys in my first managerial experience. They were very alike Dallas in terms of their versatility.

Against City, he was placed where Mateusz Klich usually plays. When he started to play in this position, he offered a different way of playing the role.

The goals were not expected but as the games go by, he manages to have a marked influence and definition in our finishing. This is a novelty, but it's one that obviously is within his faculties.

When he's been asked in the past about what he sees as being his best position, he's said that it's on the left side of the defence that he prefers. But clearly what we saw against City as a No 8 was extremely profitable and satisfying.

We'll now have to see if playing on the left remains his preferred position! Normally the player chooses where he best plays through his performances.

Thinking of how we can best use his qualities is certainly something we always consider, but his own point of view may also change with time.

Bielsa coached Zanetti with Argentina between 1998 and 2004 and the former Inter captain was adept in both full-back positions as well as midfield.

Zanetti won 143 Argentina caps and turned out more than 850 times for the Nerazzurri, where he won 16 trophies.

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