Leeds United are looking to build upon a successful first season in the Premier League. Following a 16-year absence from the English top-flight, Marcelo Bielsa guided the Yorkshire club to ninth. Some have tipted the club to qualify for European football. But for that to happen, the Peacocks will have to strengthen the squad. Here are some signings that could help Bielsa’s men:
- Breel Embolo
The Swiss striker has failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he was at Basel. This has been down to mainly injuries but also disciplinary issues. This saw another disappointing season in Germany for the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward as almost half of his minutes came off the bench. He only managed to pickup five goals and two assists from 1424 league minutes.
However, at only 24-years-old he clearly has a lot more to give. Bielsa has ironed out disciplinary issues before and is renowned for his fitness regimes. Despite only being a bit part player for Gladbach, Embolo still managed to average 0.48 xG and 0.11 xA per 90. Although this isn’t his best return, Leeds can capitalise on this situation as the former Schalke player will be allowed to leave for below his market value.
Embolo will add depth across the frontline and in the most advanced midfield role. This will massively help Leeds as it will allow Patrick Bamford to be rested as he started 37 of the 38 league games in 2020/21. With Tyler Roberts looking like he will be no more than a squad player and Rodrigo 30, Victor Orta could do with looking to add in this position. Embolo could leave for around £20 million which could prove to be a very smart signing.
- Eduardo Camavinga
Although this sounds very unrealistic, Leeds could land the teenage wonderkid.
The Frenchman has a year left on his contract and many top clubs are sniffing around him. However, at the time of writing, it seems like none of them want to match Rennes’ asking price of around £35 million. This would make him Leeds’ most expensive signing in their history, but the 18-year-old would be worth every penny.
The midfielder would slot in nicely as the box-to-box midfielder. But he could also drop into Kalvin Phillips’ role if he needed a rest with then Jamie Shackleton or Staurt Dallas going into the ‘number 8’ position. This would also mean one of Robin Koch or Pascal Strujik wouldn’t have to step up into the midfield. The Whites could do with more midfield depth as Kalvin seemed ever-present and Dallas and Mateusz Klich are both in their 30s. The latter has seemingly been phased out of the starting 11 by the manager which opens the position up for a new midfielder.
Nahitan Nández was an option and long linked with Leeds however, it seems he would prefer to stay in Italy. Inter Milan look to be leading the race for the Uruguayan midfielder with Cagliari powerless to keep him due to his €36 million buyout.
Orta has a great relationship with Rennes following the Raphina deal. It has been reported that the Brazilian winger has been trying to persuade the Frenchman to join the Yorkshire side. If no one has signed Camavinga with a week left of the transfer window, expect Leeds to make a strong move for him.
- Neco Williams
The Welsh defender is reportedly allowed to leave Liverpool for only £10 million. Leeds should snap Neco up as soon as possible. Although Luke Ayling had an amazing season, he turns 30 in August.
Dallas deputised well at right back when Ayling filled in at centre back, Jamie Shackleton can fill in at right back and Cody Drameh has impressed there for the under-23s. However, Shackleton and Dallas are best served as midfield options whilst Neco at just 20-years-old, can not only offer a lot now but also in years to come.
The Welshman can also play at left back and even at centre back, versatility Bielsa appreciates. He could be seen as a Gaetano Berardi replacement due to this. But the Swiss international’s personality and leadership behind the scenes will be difficult to replace. On the pitch though, Williams could be close to the perfect player who will grow into the leadership role as he gets older.
- Silas Mvumba
Despite the recent stories about his age and name being false, Silas Mvumba is undoubtedly a talented young star. The Congolese forward is coming off an impressive season in which he scored 11 and assisted four in 24 Bundesliga starts. This included two goals and an assist in a 5-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.
He would be seen as a Helder Costa replacement who looks likely to leave. Silas is very similar to the former Wolves star but he would be a clear upgrade. Last season he averaged 0.34 xG and 0.18xA per 90 as his side finished ninth in the Bundesliga. If he moved to Leeds, these numbers would increase due to their attacking nature under Bielsa.
Due to his three month ban because of the false information provided by his agent, he could leave for a lower fee. The 22-year-old would cost around £20 million which would be a bargain for a player of his age and ability. Radrizzani has previously stated he wants the club to be run like Leicester in terms of transfers, and this would be a prime example of an unvalued star that is available.
- Josip Brekalo
Following Rodrigo De Paul’s move to Atlético Madrid, Leeds have been left stumped as they continue to look for someone to ‘fill’ the Pablo Hernández void. Brekalo could be the answer.
The Croat has starred in a Wolfsburg side who finished 4th in the 2020/21 season. He scored seven goals and three assists in 1840 league minutes, only Wout Weghorst and Ridle Baku provided more goal involvements for die Wölfe.
Brekalo is more well rounded than Hernández which could help Leeds progress. The Spaniard was capable of providing magic from nothing and turning up for the big moments, something the former Zagreb player has shown glimpses off.
Under Marcelo Bielsa, he could progress into one of the most sought-after players in Europe. With his price tag around £25 million, this deal seems too good for the Yorkshire giants not to pursue.
Orta has already secured Jack Harrison on a permanent deal and Junior Firpo, a strong start the transfer window. However, it is clear that the squad still needs a bit of work if they want to make a strong push for European football as Marcelo Bielsa can only work so much magic. Both the manager and director have stated they are happy with the centre back options despite Koch and Llorente struggling at the start of the season to find fitness.
Some extra depth or even some more youth signings like Lewis Bate could allow Leeds to also have a cup run and let the under-23s continue to thrive.
With some players rumoured to be on the way out such as Helder Costa and Rodrigo, this could help fund the moves. However, finances are far from a problem as Andrea Radrizzani continues to enjoy the project. But with recent legends such as Gaetano Berardi, Gjanni Alioski and Hernández having departed, the club need to recruit well this summer.
They can’t afford to feel the effect of their absence. This is especially due to ‘second season syndrome’. The club have progressed so well over the last few seasons and are looking to continue with that progression rather than stagnate or even regress.
Marcelo Bielsa and the board have done an excellent job. Going from finishing 13th in the Championship during 2017/18 under Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom to finishing 9th in the Premier League in just three seasons. Recruitment and the coaching have played a huge part but arguably the most important thing has been getting the fans back onside following turbulent years under Cellino’s ownership.
Another good transfer window and European nights can return to Elland Road after 20 years.