Leeds' record signing Georginio Rutter is preparing for possible debut

Club-record signing Georginio Rutter is preparing for his possible Leeds debut against Brentford on Sunday, turning virtual FIFA team-mate Rodrigo into a real-life colleague on the pitch

  • Leeds’ club-record signing Georginio Rutter is in the squad to play Brentford 
  • It could see him line-up alongside virtual FIFA team-mate Rodrigo in real-life
  • Foward Rutter signed from Hoffenheim earlier this week for a record £35.5m

For Georginio Rutter, making his Leeds debut will be just like playing a game of FIFA.

The French forward is in the Whites’ squad to face Brentford on Sunday after sealing his club-record £35.5million move from Hoffenheim.

And if he comes off the bench, he could find himself lining up alongside a player he has partnered, virtually, before.

Club-record signing Georginio Rutter is in the Leeds United squad to face Brentford on Sunday

‘I used to actually play on the PlayStation with Rodrigo in my team,’ smiles Rutter. ‘He was particularly fast on PlayStation. I would be up front with him – 4-4-2, me and Rodrigo!’

The 20-year-old’s arrival adds to an arsenal of attacking talents at Leeds, which as well as 12-goal top scorer Rodrigo – who was the club’s previous record buy at £27m – also includes in-form Italian Willy Gnonto.

Rutter was in the stands at Elland Road on Wednesday night when Gnonto, 19, scored his Paolo Di Canio-esque scissor-kick volley just 26 seconds into their 5-2 FA Cup third-round replay win over Cardiff.

If he makes his debut, Rutter could find himself alongside virtual FIFA team-mate Rodrigo

So, does he reckon he could pull off a goal like that? ‘I think I can,’ he grins. ‘But it was an amazing goal. I said to him, he could try this 10 times and one time he would score a goal!’

Rutter was introduced to fans on the pitch at half-time that night, giving him a taste of what he can expect if he features at Elland Road on Sunday. ‘The atmosphere was absolutely amazing, it was just magical,’ he says. ‘I already have a song in the stadium!’

He began his career at Ligue 1 side Rennes, where he became the youngest French player to score in the Champions League aged 18. But after only five appearances, he moved to Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim for just £700,000 in 2021. Now two years on, he finds himself in the biggest league of them all.

‘It’s been a dream of mine to play at a big club in the Premier League,’ he says. ‘That was always the aim. But being honest, I didn’t think it would happen this fast.’

The former Hoffenheim player has been hailed as ‘one of the most promising young players’ 

Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen recently described Rutter as ‘one of the promising young players in European football’. And that it is Leeds who have secured his signature is partly down to their goalkeeper Illan Meslier, his childhood friend from France.

‘He’s like a big brother to me,’ admits Rutter. ‘I first met him at Lorient, my first club as a kid. I know that Leeds is a massive club with a lot of history, but having spoken to Illan, he told me from the inside what a great club Leeds is, so that convinced me as well.’

Rutter’s immediate task will be to help Leeds steer clear of relegation, as they sit just two points above the drop zone having not won in the Premier League since November 5.

Goalkeeper Illan Meslier, Rutter’s childhood friend, convinced him to join Leeds United

‘From what I’ve seen so far up close, with the quality of players we have, we are a team that deserves to be higher in the league and hopefully we will climb the table,’ he says.

The expectation will be on Rutter to provide the goals given the size of the fee he has just commanded. But he adds: ‘It’s not something that puts any pressure on me at all really.

‘Transfers are a thing that’s between clubs. It’s the clubs who negotiate, I just get on with my football and I want to repay the confidence the club has shown in me.’

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