How good have our signings been?

21 Nov 2014 03:54 pm, by YorkshireSquare

With Leeds now well into the new season, it seems like a decent time to have a look at the mini-bus full of new signings that have settled into life at Elland Road.

While there's an argument to say we haven't had enough time to really judge any of the three head coaches that have briefly filled the position this season, we are beginning to get an idea as to just how good many of last summer's signings are and whether they are capable of leading us back to the promised land of the Premier League. With the likes of betfair still tipping us to be nearer the bottom of the table than the top at the end of the season, let's see whether or not our summer signing have the ability to prove the bookies wrong.

Marco Silvestri
The Italian goalkeeper was one of the first players brought into the club in the summer by Massimo Cellino after spending time on loan at Cagliari, and Silvestri has wasted little time in establishing himself as a firm fan favourite at Elland Road. After arriving at the club for a reported £400,000 from Chievo, we look to have pulled off an absolute steal in signing the former Italy Under-21 international. Aside from a moment of madness against Cardiff and a couple of sticky moments against Charlton, Silvestri has been one of the best players in the team and the 23-year old looks to have a very bright future at the club.

Stuart Taylor
Sitting on the bench has been something Stuart Taylor has been forced to get used to during his career and that hasn't changed during his time at Leeds. Taylor's two appearances in the League Cup will have given Leeds fans confidence that we don't have another Paul Rachubka on our hands.

Gaetano Berardi
It's fair to say things didn't start well for Gaetano Berardi at Leeds. Two red cards in his first four appearances for the club was a fair indication of what the right back was all about. While there is little doubt the former Switzerland international is a decent player, playing almost 100 games for Sampdoria in Serie A, but it always seems as if the defender is on the verge of a mistimed challenge or a flying scissor kick. For the majority of Leeds fans, Sam Byram should be the first-choice right back and Berardi hasn't done anything to prove he should start ahead of the youngster.

Giuseppe Bellusci
After arriving at the club for a reported fee of £1.6 million, it's probably fair to say Leeds fans expected a little more from Bellusci than they have seen so far. While his sensational free-kick in the 3-1 victory at Bournemouth and cute equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday might have clouded the judgement of some Leeds fans, the fact is that the Italian hasn't been good enough as the thing we paid £1.6 million for – defending. But there is still plenty of time for Bellusci to prove his doubters wrong, and his determination and passion have already seen “The Warrior” win over a lot of Leeds fans despite his moments of madness in his own box.

Liam Cooper
Liam Cooper first came to the attention of Leeds after an impressive performance for Chesterfield when the two clubs met in a pre-season friendly, and we're now beginning to see just why Cellino was so keen to sign the defender. After a relatively slow start to the season, suspensions to Jason Pearce and Bellusci has seen the centre-back given a chance to show what he can do in recent weeks. While his screamer to open the scoring in the 3-1 victory against Blackpool was a delightful surprise, it's been the calmness he has brought to the defence that has been the most pleasing aspect of his time in the first team.

Dario Del Fabro
While Del Fabro has been a regular in the Under-21 side since his arrival on loan from Cagliari in the summer, it's only been in recent weeks where the youngster has come close to the first team. But despite his lack of Championship action, Neil Redfearn has made it clear he is a big fan of the 19-year-old and we could see a lot more of Del Fabro later in the season.

Tommaso Bianchi
Another member of the Italian contingent to arrive in the summer, Bianchi looked like a real find during the early stages of the season. While the midfielder has been an ever-present in the team this season, his performances have taken a dip in recent weeks and it could be that Redfearn feels he needs to rest the 26-year-old at some point this season. That said, there are still plenty of positives to take from Bianchi's start to life at Elland Road and the midfielder definitely adds something to this squad.

Casper Sloth
The Danish midfielder made a promising start to his Leeds career following his arrival from Aarhus in the summer, but Sloth has somewhat slipped off the radar over the past couple of games.

With so many options in midfield Sloth has so far failed to nail down a regular starting spot this season, but the 22-year-old has already done enough to give Leeds fans confidence that he could be a very useful addition to the squad. With eight Denmark caps, Sloth has been highly thought of in his homeland for a number of years. So while he might not have yet made any waves at Elland Road, Sloth does look like a player who could blossom into a very decent player.

Zan Benedicic
Aside from a couple of fleeting appearances earlier in the season, we haven't seen anything of the AC Milan youngster since his arrival on loan in the summer. While the Slovenian teenager is clearly a talented player, it doesn't look as though we're going to get to see much of Benedicic this season. A knee injury looks set to force the midfielder to undergo an operation, possibly forcing the club to cancel his loan deal and send the 19-year-old back to the Serie A side.

It was going to take something special for Adryan to live up to the incredible and unfair hype that surrounded the Brazilian's long drawn-out loan deal from Flamengo at the start of the season and that's just what we've got. The playmaker has shown exactly why Cellino was so desperate to sign a player he saw up-close during the Brazilian's time at Cagliari. From his mesmerising debut from the bench in the otherwise dismal 2-1 defeat to Rotherham to his fantastic performance in the 3-1 victory over Blackpool, it looks as though Adryan could well be one of the most talented players to have graced the Elland Road pitch in recent years. While some doubted whether the Brazil Under-20 star would be able to handle the physicality of the Championship, Adryan has more than proved he can handle everything the league can throw at him. With the option of a permanent deal at the end of the season, Leeds fans have every right to feel really quite excited about our Brazilian unicorn.

Souleymane Doukara
With six goals to his name this season, the French striker has already established himself as a firm fan favourite with the Leeds fans. On the evidence of his pre-season performances, you could have been forgiven for feeling Doukara was going to be one of those forwards who might do more huffing and puffing than scoring. But with the season now well underway, the powerful front-man has looked like a player capable of racking up 15+ goals this season. Capable of playing out wide or through the middle, the 23-year-old doesn't need asking twice to have a pop at goal, and his goal tally is evidence that we could have a very useful player on our hands. Arriving for a potential fee of £1.5 million from Catania, that transfer could look like a sensational bit of business if Doukara can score us the goals that see the club sneak into the play-offs at the end of the season.

Mirco Antenucci
A prolific scorer in Serie B during the majority of his career, Antenucci has taken little time to adapt to life in the Championship. With five goals to his name in the league so far, the well-travelled striker has looked more than capable of being another player who could score 15+ goals this season. While there have been times this year where his continued presence in an offside position has left fans pulling out their hair, his finishing ability, work-rate and glorious beard make it very easy to forgive the Italian striker. With a promising understanding with Doukara up front, Redfearn has plenty of attacking options at his disposal this season and we have a frontline capable of scoring goals against any defence in the league. Able to pop up in the right place at the right time, Antenucci is a genuine goalscorer and someone who has taken to life in England extremely well. With so many strikers in the squad Antenucci will know he has to maintain his level of performance if he is going to keep his starting spot, but the Italian will be one of the first names on the team-sheet at the moment and if he can keep scoring then that won't change any time soon.

Billy Sharp
A player seemingly linked with Leeds in every transfer window, it always seemed inevitable that Billy Sharp would one day sign for the club. A fantastic start to life at Leeds saw the striker score on his debut, with what proved to be a last minute winner in the 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough during the early stages of the season. Injuries and the form of Doukara and Antenucci have since seen Sharp slip down the pecking order over the past month and the striker will be hoping to break back into the first team in the run-up to the busy festive period. We've seen just what Sharp is capable of doing in this league during the forward's time with the likes of Doncaster, Nottingham Forest and Southampton, and there's little doubt the 28-year-old offers something to this squad that many teams in the Championship would love to have. So while Sharp might not have blown us away yet, fans shouldn't be writing off the likeable front-man. With plenty of twists and turns left in this season, Sharp could well have a big say in how the next six months go for Leeds United.

Nicky Ajose
In what must rank as one of the oddest transfers of the summer, Nicky Ajose's time at Leeds has consisted of two early season appearances..........and then absolutely nothing. Not even included in the Under-21 team since his brief foray in the first team, it remains to be seen just what will happen to the former Manchester United youngster in January. It's fairly clear that Ajose was a David Hockaday signing, perhaps the only one the “baby in the toy shop” was allowed to make, and it's pretty clear just why Cellino was so apprehensive to let his coach have anything to do with transfers.

Brian Montenegro
A loan signing of the Paraguayan that ended up being the club's sole bit of business on transfer deadline day and we've yet to really see just how good Montenegro is. Signed on an initial loan deal from Nacional Asunción, anyone who has been watching the Under-21's this season has seen a striker more than capable of scoring goals. His prolific form for the Development side has seen the 21-year-old given a chance in the first team in recent weeks, albeit off the bench, but the attacker adds another dimension to an already stacked frontline. With injuries and suspensions inevitable over the course of a long and gruelling Championship season, Montenegro's quiet start to life in Yorkshire could yet prove to be the calm before the storm if the former Paraguayan Under-20 international can transfer his goalscoring exploits from the Development side into the first team.

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YorkshireSquare wrote on 21 Nov 2014 09:44 pm

Silvestri and Antenucci been the picks for me. Cooper impressed on debut and was surprised he was dropped but glad he's getting a run in the side now. Doukara has been good, thought he was going to be a bit of a lump up front but his speed and strength has surprised. Bellusci has certainly become a fans favourite, though positioning has been suspect. Adryan certainly the one we have all been waiting for and has showed that he has a great amount of potential.

gessa wrote on 21 Nov 2014 08:38 pm

Really good article Adam. I've not seen enough to give a reasoned assessment but from what I have seen and mainly through gut feeling, I like what we have acquired,especially in contrast to the last 10 years, young players, hopefully with a long Leeds career ahead of them. I doubt they'll all be a success but hopefully most of them will.

theleedsmango wrote on 21 Nov 2014 08:13 pm

Great post Shields! Good to start a bit of a debate.

The good thing is that everyone has been given, or will soon be given, a shot and the only way of staying in the team is by continually performing. We have too much hunger for people to take their spot for granted. I think Silvestri, Antenucci and Adyran are breaking away from the rest of the pack in terms of bring fan favourites, but I think Bianchi, Cooper, Sharp and Doukara are solid and could well catch up as the season goes on.

1964white wrote on 21 Nov 2014 07:19 pm

Good assessment Adam

Antenucci & Adryan excite me & are my favourites, others have done well & some are unknown to us, hopefully more to come from all of them........certainly an improvement on the signings McDermott & Warnock made

faaip wrote on 21 Nov 2014 06:18 pm

I like them all....