Are Leeds in danger of doing a Fulham?
31 Aug 2020 03:47 pm, by YorkshireSquare
If Victor Orta pulls off the rumoured moves for Udinese midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Dinamo Zagreb defender Josko Gvardiol, it would bring Leeds spending to £110 million this transfer window. On a par with this summer’s big spenders Manchester City and Chelsea. But many fans, particularly from rival clubs have accused Leeds of ‘doing a Fulham’. The West London club famously spent over £100 million on their return to the premier league in 2018 before swiftly being relegated again as they finished nineteenth in the Premier League, only the truly awful Huddersfield Town won fewer points that season. So, should Leeds fans be concerned?
Over on Twitter Andrew Bredesen has done some great research using information from statistical website Transfermarkt comparing Leeds’ spending to the Fulham side of 2018/19 and the Villa squad of 2019/20 to see if there is anything Leeds fans should be worried about. Starting with Leeds, assuming the two deals mentioned are completed, Leeds will have singed 11 players this summer for a total in the region of £110 million. Of those 11 players, 3 were already at the club and 4 have been signed for the u23's. Leeds have therefore signed 4 players for the first team squad that they didn't have last season. Arguably they have brought in replacements for Nketiah, White and Berardi, as such only increasing the size of the squad by 1 player.
By comparison in 2018/19 season, Fulham signed a total of 15 players for £105m. Of these 14 were new players for the first team squad, costing around £83 million. In the 2019/20 season, Villa signed a total of 16 players for £143m. Of those 13 were new players for the first team squad, costing around £112 million. Already we can see a huge difference in transfer strategies. Fulham and Villa required massive rebuilding jobs, overhauling most of their squads in the process. Leeds are looking to fill key gaps in their squad, whilst retaining the majority of the team which played so well together last season to win promotion. But the number of transfers isn’t the only factor, quality of singings is just as important, if not more so.
Leeds broke their long-standing transfer record with the £27 million signing of Rodrigo, a player with years of experience in La Liga and Spain’s current Number 9. In 2018/19 Fulham paid £22 million for Mitrovic, a player who admittedly had Premier League experience but had only mustered 10 goals in 40 appearances. In 2019/20 Villa signed Wesley Moraes and Mbwana Samatta, neither with any experience higher than the Belgium top-flight for a combined £31.5 million. They went on to score just 6 goals in 35 games. At £31 million, Rodrigo De Paul would be a step beyond what Villa or Fulham paid for a single player but with 24 goals in 141 Serie A games an 17 caps for Argentina, he is a different class altogether.
The other key signing for Leeds so far has been Robin Koch. A centre back with over 80 Bundesliga appearances under his belt and 2 caps for Germany, expected to be 4 by the end of the week. Fulham’s key defensive signing was Alfie Mawson who at £15.2 million was nearly £4 million more than Koch. Mawson had fewer topflight games experience than Koch and was previously part of a poor defence that saw Swansea relegated from the Premier League. Villa signed Tryone Mings and Ezri Konsa for a combined £32 million, Mings with only 17 top-flight games for Bournemouth and Konsa had never played higher than the Championship. If Leeds did pay a fee of £18 million for Gvardiol it would seem like a lot for an 18-year-old but the combined fee along with Koch would still be less than Villa paid for their defence last summer.
In summary Leeds aren’t doing a Fulham or Villa, they are doing their own thing. Keeping the core of the existing squad together but strengthening in key areas with real quality. Victor Orta and Andrea Radrizzani may be splashing the cash, but this is by no means a scattergun approach, the players they are going after are top quality and fill specific gaps in the squad. The other reason we aren’t doing a Fulham or Villa is that we have a genuinely world class coach in Marcelo Bielsa who achieved wonders with the squad we had, who knows what he can achieve with additional world class players at his disposal. There is no proven formula for Premier League survival, but Leeds United’s moves this last week have been really promising.
For more reading check out Andrew Bredesen’s thread on Twitter, give it a like and a retweet and give him a follow!