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This summer’s transfer activity will be crucial for Marcelo Bielsa and his scouting team as they look to transform the Whites into a Premier League force. Hanging on to key figures such as Kalvin Phillips will be the first port of call – you don’t weaken yourselves prior to strengthening, and extending the loan deal for Ben White, or convincing Brighton to part with him on a permanent basis, will also be welcome. Otherwise, new signings are likely in order to provide competition for places in the starting eleven and also to provide much-needed strength in depth.
At this time of year, the media is rife with salacious gossip as to who may be heading where, and as far as Leeds are concerned there are three names which continue to pop up with regularity – Che Adams, Robin Koch and Juan-Cruz Alvaro Armada. So how likely is Bielsa to give the green light to signing each of this trio, and what would they bring to Elland Road?
Che It Again?
If the rumours are to be believed, Leeds had a £15 million bid for Che Adams turned down in the January transfer window. The 23-year-old has been a prolific marksman in the past at Birmingham City, notching 34 goals in 86 starts for the Blues, but a move south to Southampton hasn’t quite worked out. Adams has struggled to tie down a starting berth, and has been left feeding from scraps as a substitute.
There’s no guarantee that he would walk into the Leeds side either, but Bielsa is a known fan and has been wanting to lighten the load on Patrick Bamford ever since Eddie Nketiah’s loan spell ended. Press speculation suggests that the Saints are willing to cut their losses on Adams, and would accept a bid in the region of £10 million. For a proven goalscorer with time on his side, that appears to be excellent value indeed.
Koch and Roll
One of the reasons that Leeds have been able to live up to their pre-season billing as one of the favourites in the bookmakers’ outright winner Championship betting odds is a sound defensive approach. With the fewest goals conceded in the second tier, Bielsa’s men are always tough to beat and an unerring ability to keep clean sheets makes accumulating points all the easier.
Central to that has been the form of White, although the reality is that he may not return to Yorkshire for the 2020/21 campaign. And so it’s no surprise that the net has been cast far and wide for a replacement, and the Freiburg man Robin Koch would appear to fit the bill. An old-fashioned central defender not afraid to put his head (or any other body part) in where it hurts, Koch recorded a whopping 3.50 clearances per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this term.
The 23-year-old is cultured in possession too, and is comfortable coming out from the back to play vertical passes into midfield – such is his ability he has been used as a sort of ‘quarterback’ by Freiburg at times. He fits the ‘Bielsa-ball’ methodology, so the rumours of Koch coming to Leeds could be true.
It would be fair to say that the Peacocks could use some depth on the left flank, with the jury still out on Ezgjan Alioski and Stuart Dallas far from a natural there. With Barry Douglas’ future at the club also in doubt, it’s little wonder we have been linked with left-sided players and the name Jean-Cruz Alvaro Armada has come up a few times. While he operates in the Spanish second tier for Elche, Armada is renowned as a high-quality operator who has contributed eight assists to the cause this term – comfort in attack and defence is essential in Bielsa’s high octane system.
So the signing of Armada – and Adams and Koch for that matter – will be welcome as Leeds United plans for a bright future.