Aug 25 (Reuters) - Rodrigo Moreno has quietly turned into Spain’s leading striker after a varied career which has taken him from the youth academies of Flamengo and Real Madrid to become a star at Valencia via spells at Benfica and Bolton Wanderers.
Now the Brazilian-born Spain international could be set to be Leeds United’s marquee signing ahead of their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
Spanish media reported on Tuesday that Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani and sporting director Victor Orta have travelled to Valencia to negotiate a deal for Rodrigo, 29, who is valued at around 40 million euros.
Leeds did not respond to a request to comment on the reports.
Should he join Leeds, Rodrigo would be the latest high-profile departure from Valencia after captain Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin left for rival Villarreal this month, sparking fresh protests against owner Peter Lim..
Rodrigo is already well versed in English football after making 17 Premier League appearances with Bolton while on loan from Benfica in the 2010/11 season.
“England was good to me. You go to England, you know the physical demands – you’ve got no choice but to adapt and that makes you grow,” he told British newspaper The Guardian in 2018.
“Working there daily helped. I was involved, it was my first senior season and I learned a lot.”
A wide player who attacks down the right wing, Rodrigo can link the forward line and is particularly effective on the counterattack.
His qualities have made him the favoured forward of Spain coach Luis Enrique and predecessor Robert Moreno. He has repaid their faith by scoring six goals in his last nine starts for his country.
He scored only seven goals in all competitions last season amid injuries and turmoil at Valencia, who sacked popular manager Marcelino in September and eventually finished ninth.
His best season in front of goal came in 2017/18 when he scored 16 times in La Liga.
He also hit decisive goals against Ajax Amsterdam and Chelsea last year as Valencia reached the knockout stages of the Champions League and netted in the 2-1 win over Barcelona in the 2019 Copa del Rey final. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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