The exodus at Elland Road continues this summer with more players leaving the club in the last few days. The high profile departures may have been Jack Clarke (Spurs) and Pontus Jansson (Brentford) but a myriad of fringe players have departed the club already this summer. Paudie O'Connor was one of the first to go signing for Bradford City where he had spent last summer on loan. O'Connor impressed Garry Monk during a tial in March 2017 but failed to make an impact on the Leeds United first team under Monk or Christiansen, though he did make four appearances under Paul Heckingbottom.
Aapo Halm left for Barnsley having made only four league appearances for the first team last season covering for injuries but was a big part of Carlos Corberan’s U23 team who took the Professional Development League national title last season. After impressing most fans who saw him play the move may have been a surprise but Leeds have deemed him surplus to requirements. The move followed on from Halm’s U23 defensive colleague Hugo Diaz being released by the club a couple of weeks before.
Mallik Wilks also followed Halm to Barnsley. The Leeds born winger didn’t feature for the U23s last season but instead was out on loan at Doncaster Rovers plying his trade in League One impressing with 55 appearances and 16 goals and 12 assists to his name. Wilks had featured as a substitute for Leeds before under Garry Monk but never got to make his league debut for the Whites. Despite having had plenty of first team experience for Doncaster last season Marcelo Bielsa has deemed surplus to requirements, with Harrison, Alioski, Clarke and Costa all in competition for the wing positions.
Other youngsters to have left the club in the last few weeks include defender Liam Kitching who moved to Forest Green, left back Tyler Denton who joined Stevenage, striker Sam Dalby who moves to Watford having struggled to break though on lean at Morecambe last season and the Spanish pair of midfielder Oriol Rey who joined Real Valladolid following time on loan with UB Conquense last season and midfielder Alex Machuca who moved to Spanish side U Ibiza.
The long running saga of Samuel Saiz has finally reached a conclusion in the last couple of days. The 28-year-old who moved back to Spain for personal reasons and spent time on loan at Getafe last season now joins La Liga side Girona. Saiz joined Leeds from Huesca in the summer of 2017 and scored a hat-trick on his debut for Leeds against Port Vale in the League Cup and was a key cog in Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the first half of last season. But it wasn’t all plain sailing including his six match ban for spitting against Newport County and his move back to Spain with Leeds fighting for promotion.
Hadi Sacko completed a move to Turkish club Denizlispor. After an initial loan spell in 2016 Sacko famously became Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta’s first permanent signing in June 2017 but come the 2018-2019 season it was clear he was not in Bielsa's plans and spent the season on loan as Las Palmas and Ankaragucu. Sacko featured a total of 60 times for Leeds scoring 3 goals in the process. Striker Caleb Ekuban also completed a move to Turkey signing for Trabzonspor having spent last season there on loan. Ekuban totalled 21 appearances for Leeds scoring 2 goals.
There will also be question marks over the futures of Conor Shaughnessy, Tom Pearce, Eunan O'Kane, Laurens De Bock, Vurnon Anita and Pawel Cibicki. Cibicki has been on loan at Swedish club IF Elfsborg and there was hope the deal could become permanent but Elfsborg have been unable to some up with the funds and Cibicki will return to England this week.
Getting so many players off the wage bill will help with finances and FFP but with the squad looking a bit lean heading into the new season fans will be calling on the club to bring in replacements. The U23 lads have impressed in pre-season so far but there is no substitute for experience and we do still seem a little short in defence and up front ahead of the first game next month. Will this exodus give Orta the opportunity to strengthen before the season kicks off?
The Elland Road Exodus Continues