With a dramatic first season in the Premier League coming to a close this month, is there a need for a new Leeds United left-back in the transfer market?
Upon their promotion to the top flight, Leeds were active in the market to the tune of around £100 million, bringing in the likes of Raphinha, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Rodrigo. But can they replicate this spending power or will this be more of a conservative summer spending wise?
Leeds United Left-Back Needed in the Transfer Market
Midfield Options Also on the List
Identifying Leeds’ needs is the only place to begin. Ask any fan and there are clear areas that need to be improved for the whites to move forward as a force in the Premier League. These are a left-back, a defensive midfielder to cover Kalvin Phillips, a box-to-box midfielder and then finally some attacking options.
Left-Back Issues for Leeds United
There have been a variety of left-backs at Leeds United in the last few seasons. Barry Douglas could not quite make the grade, Stuart Dallas is a much better midfielder it would seem, and Gjanni Alioski has struggled. While he has served Leeds well during his time at the club, producing some memorable moments and stunning goals, he has also been caught out of position on many occasions and made poor decisions in and around the box.
A major character in the squad, he is the comic relief in a high-pressure training environment. However, his contract expires this season and it seems very likely he is to move on. So, who are the possible alternatives?
Nicolas Tagliafico – Ajax
In recent weeks, momentum seems to have been growing around the rumours surrounding Nicolas Tagliafico, with Dutch publication De Telegraaf reporting this. The 28-year-old Ajax left-back has 28 caps for Argentina and is renowned for his immense stamina and excellent technical ability.
Tagliafico has good international and European experience and there is an agreement in place for him to leave this summer. He has, however, been linked with the likes of Manchester City and Inter Milan in previous transfer windows.
If Leeds United were able to sign such an established player, it would be an excellent statement of intent. But director of football Victor Orta will need to work his magic with this deal for sure. It may just be another case of linking an Argentinian player with Marcelo Bielsa too of course. But then again, Leeds have attracted similar calibre players before.
Romain Perraud – Stade Brest
Another player heavily linked this season is Stade Brest left-back, Romain Perraud. Victor Orta’s recent acquisition history regarding Ligue 1 has been very successful. Raphinha and Illan Meslier have proved to be very shrewd business, so the interest in the 23-year-old Perraud seems to make sense.
Whilst commenting on the recent rumours on his podcast, Phil Hay of The Athletic said: “He’s starting to become one of the leading left-backs, seen by many people as the best left-back, or one of them, in France’s top division.”
There are serious financial issues in French football at the moment. After the collapse of a lucrative TV deal, it has meant that French clubs are having to consider selling more than they would like. All except oil-rich Paris Saint-Germain, of course. Therefore, this may prove to be a more cost-effective and long-term solution to Leeds’ issue in this position. But it still won’t be cheap.
Hay continues: “It’s very clear from the performance data that he’s a very attacking left-back. He is good at creating chances, taking shots himself, a threat going forward, but also really good at employing the press. He is good as part of a team that likes to press aggressively. On those basic pointers, you can see why Leeds are interested.”
Benjamin Mendy – Manchester City
Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City has had a mixed experience at the Etihad. Tainted by injuries, inconsistent form and disciplinary issues with mid-pandemic parties, his talent has often been forgotten. It is rumoured that City want to move on, according to Fabrizio Romano on talkSPORT.
Clubs such as PSG have also been keeping tabs on the situation. Mendy has played for Bielsa before at Marseille, so he should be used to the training methods and playing style which would demand so much of him and his injury-plagued body. If he can prove his fitness, desire and quality then there will undoubtedly be suitors aplenty. Leeds United could well be among them.
Mendy even attended a Leeds game last season. Philips and Ian Poveda joked that they had tried to persuade him to join them and his old manager.
Ludwig Augustinsson – Werder Bremen
Heavily linked in the summer transfer window, Swedish international Ludwig Augustinsson is reported to be very keen to move to Elland Road. The last year of his contract with Werder Bremen is rapidly approaching. Therefore, the German club may be keen to arrange a deal before he can leave for nothing.
Augustinsson had been a steady part of one of the better defences in the Bundesliga, but this season Bremen have found themselves in a relegation dogfight with three games left to play. With over 30 international caps, the 27-year-old is certainly an experienced professional with a keen left-foot. He is a dead ball specialist too, which always proves useful.
Rico Henry – Brentford
This link dates back to the summer window and is certainly in line with Leeds CEO Angus Kinnear’s desire to focus on the top players from the Championship. Rico Henry, the same age as the above-mentioned Perraud, has been on Leeds United’s radar for some time. Indeed, ever since making his Walsall debut in a friendly against Leeds as a 16-year-old.
Linked with a host of clubs during the summer transfer window, Henry has impressed in his time as Brentford’s starting left-back. His pace and endeavour were there for all to see before a hamstring injury disrupted his season in February 2021. Fifty-one appearances the season before, however, demonstrate how dependent and important he is to the club. Brentford have been keen to declare his unavailable status, but should they fail to gain promotion for a second successive season there may be a need to cash in, and they won’t be short of suitors.
Josh Doig – Hibernian
Whilst probably not a target for the first team straight away, 18-year-old Josh Doig is gaining plenty of admirers at Hibernian. Recently nominated for the SFWA Young Player of the Year Award, Doig signed a new two-year deal in February.
This has not stopped the rumour mill, however. The Edinburgh Reporter links the young talent with Leeds and Manchester City among others. Doig would certainly be slotted into the U23 squad, to begin with, should Leeds be successful in landing him. But the chance to learn from a more experienced left-back whilst under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa would be a tough temptation to resist.
Left-Back in the Changing Room
Another option is whether Leeds can cover this issue in-house. The option of Stuart Dallas has already been covered but what about the U23s? Can they cover the need for a left-back Leeds United transfer?
Leeds United’s U23 squad recently claimed the Premier League Two Division Two title at their first attempt, gaining promotion to the top division at this level. Their main left-back during this campaign has been Leif Davis, an attack-minded talent who was signed from Morecombe in 2018.
He has gone on to make nine senior appearances for the club and has certainly gained a good reputation on the whole. “Very good” Davis, as he is often referred to after rare praise was caught on camera straight from El Loco’s mouth, has been solid in his appearances but certainly not at the level of Dallas or indeed Alioski.
There have been some whisperings of doubt about certain aspects of his approach to the profession, however. Kalvin Philips stated in an interview with Leeds Live that he could be one of the best in the squad if he could just “settle down and screw his head-on.” Nothing to be too alarmed about, of course, but if nothing else, hard work and determination is essential to be successful in this squad.
Expect the Unexpected
If we learned anything from the signings orchestrated by the holy trinity of Orta-Bielsa-Radrizanni at Leeds United, it is to expect the unexpected. With perhaps the signing of Koch aside, the capture of the Spanish internationals Rodrigo and Llorente alongside the bargain £17 million purchase of Raphinha came from nowhere.
No rumours, no whispers, and then there they were in front of the cameras signing on the dotted line. Make no mistake there is a need for a left-back for Leeds United in the transfer market this summer. Who will be next to hold up the famous white Leeds jersey?