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With it coming to the business end of the season, It's still possible for Leeds United to get promoted and in turn will need some higher level recruitment. I've spent a bit of time watching some players in areas the club could improve upon.

In order to be as realistic as possible with these selections, I've taken into account things such as FFP and PSR, so fans shouldn't be expecting ridiculous, big money signings. They will be pragmatic for what's need and within the confines of the clubs limitations.

Leeds will likely be recouping some money from several loan deals which will ultimately end up as transfers. Most notably in the cases of Harrison, Wober, Llorente and already with Sinisterra, so there is potentially some wiggle room for maybe one bigger signing.

Here are, what I feel, would be some of our best options should we attain promotion.


Firstly, I'd like to rule out some players who I would love to have at the club in a perfect world, but are ultimately unlikely given various reasons.

CAN UZUN (18- AM - Nurenburg) , is someone I have touted for Leeds before in January. After adding more goals and assists (18G, 3A) to this season's tally and a full international cap under his belt, sadly, it's hard to see him coming as big clubs are circling the young starlet. An exceptional talent with a promising future, but the club has likely missed the boat on this one. The kid is destined for a top European club.

TAIWO AWONIYI (26 - CF - Nottingham Forest)
is the kind of profile CF who would slot in perfectly and be a marked improvement on Leeds' current crop of strikers. Forest are currently having their own PSR issues, having already been docked 4 points this season. They are under pressure to sell some of their better players and Awoniyi would fit that bill. Unfortunately, injuries have become a persistent concern for the bullish finisher this season, hampering his goal contributions (6G, 3A) . I would deem this transfer too risky based on recent injuries, which is a damn shame as he could really lead the line well if consistently fit.

MAXENCE LACROIX (23 - RCB - Wolfsburg) formed a formidable partnership with Spur's Mikey Van de Ven during the 22/ 23 season. The young Frenchman deserves a big move himself after consistently showing to be a powerful, pacey, line-breaking, duel-winning centre back. He's arguably my favourite non EPL CB to watch this season (alongside Leonardo Balerdi of Marseille) and his stock is high, with teams like Liverpool and AC Milan keeping tabs. Rumours would suggest his valuation to be somewhere around £30+m so this makes him more of a luxury and a likely no-go from a financial standpoint. Nevertheless, he's a proper talent.

Moving on from the disappointment of players Leeds likely can't or won't attain, here's some more realistic targets, should the club gain promotion.

LUCA NETZ (20 - LB - Monchengladbach) is a gem from the 2003 class, which has produced marauding talents, Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

A composed full back with an articulated left foot. With the correct nurturing, Netz has every asset needed to be a complete player in his position. Adept in the attacking third, crossing well, making key passes and fearless dribbling are proponents of his game. A specialist on corners, whilst it should be noted he's a robust defender, rarely caught out of position, who has won around 50% of his duels over the past two seasons - something I think could even improve in Farke's system. For context, Andy Robertson of Liverpool has won around 53% of his duels over the same time period.

At 20 years old, the U21 German international looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Offering a move to the EPL from an underperforming mid-table Bundesliga club should realistically be something Netz would consider. Currently valued at £8.5m by Transfermarkt.

PHILLIP TIETZ (26 - CF - Augsburg) as an avid Bundesliga watcher, I've been highly impressed with Augsburg's performances this season, in large part thanks to Ermedin Demirovic and Phillip Tietz. The latter of which has a profile which would flourish under Daniel Farke's style of play.

Tietz is a real handful for defenders. Standing 6'3, it's no suprise that Tietz is strong on the ball and an absolute monster at winning aerial duels, which in turn helps his team with their ability to retain possession and start or keep attacks flowing. It's also reassuring to see that Tietz's interlinking play ranks extremely high in terms of passes per game and key passes - putting up similar numbers to Harry Kane, who is revered for his link-up play, amongst other things. It's testament to Tietz's ability that he's producing some ridiculous stats in a lower quality Bundesliga team, giving reason to believe he will be successful at a higher level within a better team. Tietz has decently quick feet and acceleration, whilst being a relatively composed finisher scoring 19.44% of his shots. Comparatively, EPL top scorers, Haaland and Watkins, are around 23% for this season. Tietz has scored 8 and assisted 4 this season, with 37G, 18A over his past three seasons.

His off the ball work is another asset not to be overlooked, with Tietz being a willing runner and defensively responsible, shutting down progression from defenders by covering large distances and winning a lot of his ground duels.

Tietz would be a smart buy for nominal money should Leeds pursue interest this summer. He's yet to alert any of the big teams, but with this season's performances it's only a matter of time. Currently valued at £4.2m by Transfermarkt.

KEVIN DENKEY (23 - CF - Cercle Brugge) is another option for CF, albeit more expensive than Tietz, he's still great value for money. I wrote previously about the marauding attacker in December:

"The more I watch Denkey, the more I see similarities in his play to that of Callum Wilson (without the injury woes) . He's a powerful runner who busts a gut to get into goal scoring positions, as well as being dogged for his team. He likes to get involved in many facets of the game, but he's an absolute demon once he's in the box, managing to roll and bully defenders to create a shot opportunity. The lad is in such a rich vein of form right now too, and he certainly has the ability to carry that over to the Championship. "

Since then, Denkey has gone on to rack up a further 8 goals, bringing his season total to 26 goals in 3157 minutes. Or a goal every 121 minutes. Denkey's conversion rate also ranks very highly, with him converting 25% of his chances, which puts him amongst Europe's elite in that aspect.

There is interest from Italian giants, AC Milan, with £15m rumoured to be the asking price. Denkey would be steal for that kind of money, as he has attributes which very much suit playing at a higher level than he is currently.


The Japan international is having a fruitful season for a free-scoring AZ Alkmaar side this season. The ball-playing right back has shown to be a menace all season with his teasing crosses. Something he truly excels at and gives credence to the Keiran Trippier comparisons some scouts have made.

Sugawara has accumulated 4 goals and 8 assists in all comps this season. He's had 45 key passes this season and attempted 157 crosses with a success rate of 27.39%. Comparatively the aforementioned Trippier has a cross completion rate of 32.04%, while Trent Alexander-Arnold has managed 31.97%, meaning Sugawara is in good company.

A quality vertical passer, I'd be remiss to mention that he's also an astute defender who is more than comfortable winning duels against opposing wingers. Sugawara has won 55.2% of his duels this season, while comparatively, perenially elite defender Kyle Walker has won 52.2% of his duels this season. This isn't to say Sugawara has the defensive capabilities of Walker, but rather a metric we can all understand and gauge his efficacy in that area.

The 23-year-old has a big career ahead of him and I'd hazard a guess that he moves on in the summer. Liverpool and more recently, West Ham, have shown interest in Sugawara, with his value believed to be around £15m to £20m.

GABRIEL SARA (24 - CM/ AM - Norwich) has been the standout player at Norwich during their latest spell in the Championship. The playmaker has been a keen goal contributer during his time there, racking up an impressive 14 goals and 13 assists this season - accumulating 21 goals and 17 assist in total since signing in 22/ 23. Sara's shot-creating actions also see him average a little over 5 per 90 mins.

The Brazilian has really found his feet in England and is more than capable of playing at a higher level.

With a varied passing range, and an eye for key passes and magical clutch moments in games, he could add the goals and assists that the Leeds midfield has desperately been seeking since the club lost revered talisman, Pablo Hernandez. Sara ranks from the 83rd to the 99th percentile on all of his passing stats this season, with his key passes ranking in the highest tier, at 99, whilst his progressive passing sees him in the top 86th percentile. Furthermore the 24-year-old Brazilian has 112 key passes completed along with 16 big chances created.

Sara would inject some venom into the Leeds midfield, with his ability to play against low blocks, unlocking structured and disciplined defences. A physical and technical player with the creative nous to take the midfield to the next level.

A signing which should be very much at the forefront of Gretar Steinsson's mind, should Norwich fail in their quest for promotion.

JACOB GREAVES (23 - CB - Hull City) has been a standout player for a very good Hull side this season. The commanding centre back is somewhat of a unicorn in the Championship given his talents. A 6'4 centre back who can just as easily win aerial duels as he can send a 50 yard crossfield pass, turning defence into attack in an instant.

Greaves is very much a complete ball-playing defender, capable in every aspect of the role. A brilliant tackler and header of the ball, positionally responsible, shows intelligence on and off the ball and the ability to make sublime vertical passes whether from behind or after breaking the line.

Statistically, it's a pleasing read to see Greaves has won 303 ground duels this season and 173 aerial duels, ranking in the 95th and 97th percentile, respectively. Whilst his passing stats are something to salivate at for a center back, making 3.7 progressive passes per 90 and completing 89.13% of his total passes. Comparatively William Saliba makes 3.78 progressive passes per 90.

Farke's system relies heavily on keeping possession and a player such as Greaves not only epitomises that, but improves upon the quality of longer progressive passes than our current centre backs passing capabilities.

Functioning as a left-sided centre back, bringing Greaves in would act as huge competition for Pascal Struijk next season and allow Ethan Ampadu to return to a more familiar central midfield role.

Greaves has hardly put a foot wrong all season and - with hopes of avoiding hyperbole - he looks to have the potential to be a future England international if he makes a step up the league ladder this summer.


Author: Ryan Thomas.

Written by Dillinger May 01 2024 13:59:57


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