Leeds look to foreign recruits for Premier League push
Posted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:54 pm
The summer transfer merry-go-round is in full swing and Leeds have been one of the busiest clubs to hop on, with new boss Thomas Christiansen looking to stamp his mark on the team. The Dane has brought in a mix of home grown and foreign stars and he will be hoping that those from overseas can gel as quickly as possible at Elland Road.
Starting at the back, German goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald has been recruited from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen after a couple of seasons with Die Werderaner. While former England shot-stopper Rob Green did a decent job playing in every Championship fixture last term, he is now 37 and it seems likely that the new man will operate between the posts.
Having played in a quality league for the past four years, with a spell at Eintracht Frankfurt before moving to Bremen, the man who was capped once at Under-20 level by Germany clearly has the experience to cope with the cut and thrust of the Championship. Christiansen has also gone foreign with the acquisition of versatile Macedonia international Ezgjan Alioski, who has penned a four-year deal in West Yorkshire after signing from Swiss side FC Lugano.
Alioski, more commonly known as 'Gianni', can operate out wide or as a central striker and bagged 17 goals and registered 14 assists from 36 games in the Swiss top-flight last term. He began his career as a left-back and so will give the boss plenty of options should injury strike and leave Leeds short in that department at any stage of the campaign.
Spaniard Samuel Saiz has been brought in on a four-year deal to help giant New Zealander Chris Wood up front. The 26-year-old was on the books at Real Madrid before spells in the reserves at Sevilla, Getafe and Atletico Madrid and, despite his age, it has to be said that he has little experience of playing top-flight football. Thirteen goals from 48 appearances for Spanish second-tier side Huesca was enough to persuade Christiansen that he could do a job for the team and he joins the growing list of foreign players at the club.
Vurnon Anita is well known to Premier League and Championship fans after his five-year spell at Newcastle United but it will be the white of United that the Netherlands international wears for the next three years. The defensive midfielder will provide some experience in the centre of the park and protection for the rearguard after playing four seasons with Ajax prior to his switch to St James’ Park. He played 27 times for the Magpies last season and knows exactly what to expect in the Championship, having been part of Rafa Benitez’s side that won the title and gained automatic promotion.
Poland international midfielder Mateusz Klich has been signed from Dutch outfit FC Twente on a three-year contract and, while not really a goal threat, will provide class alongside Anita. One man who does know his way to goal is Italian-born striker Caleb Ekuban, who had been on the books of Serie A side Chievo since 2012 prior to his switch to Leeds. However, the 22-year-old failed to make an appearance for the Italians, with spells on loan at several clubs.
He spent last season with Albanian club FK Partizani Tirana and 17 league goals from 34 outings was enough to convince Christiansen to make a move. Like Saiz, his signing is a much like this football star slot – a bit of a gamble. But he does has pace and strength going for him – attributes that should serve him well in England.
Finally, Leeds fans know all about Pontus Jansson after the giant Swede’s displays last season but he is now on board on a permanent basis and will look to dominate the penalty area once again with his giant frame.