Following their Championship defeat to Brighton yesterday evening, Leeds United manager David Hockaday has criticised his players’ lack of ‘cutting edge’.
“I can’t explain our slow start. It is a mental thing. We didn’t play as a team, we didn’t close down and when we got the ball we gave it away cheaply. That’s not good enough. At the end of the day they were better than us. They showed tonight what a good team they are but we lacked a cutting edge. It was a very uncharacteristic performance, ” the Whites boss informed reporters after the 2-0 loss.
Ah yes, ‘cutting edge’, that rather ambiguous footballing cliché. Does it mean a more consistent supply of goals? A greater level of quality? Or does it literally refer to a team’s sharpness?
Well, although cutting edge is yet to be unanimously defined, the common consensus is that it refers to a clinical approach in the final third.
Thus, being the lovely bunch that we are at Football FanCast, here’s SIX signings that would significantly raise Leeds’ lethality going forward.
Brazilian hotshot Adryan, compared to Selecao greats Zico and Kaka, would certainly provide Leeds with some added cutting edge and is already alleged to be on the verge of an Elland Road switch:
— Official Whites (@OfficialLUFC) August 18, 2014
The attacking midfielder rose to international acclaim after propelling his country to U17 World Cup glory in 2011, netting this free-kick against Australia:
He was subsequently linked with a move to Manchester United, but turned down the opportunity to join the Red Devils.
Instead, the 19 year-old has continued his development with Flamengo, and in January joined Serie A side Cagliari on a long-term loan.
Despite his performances remaining brief in Italy, there’s no doubt the South American is a potent creative entity. Just check out his stats, based on per-90-min metrics, from last season:
It’s believed the deal is close to completion, with Massimo Cellino claiming Adryan wants to play for Leeds after being told he’s not part of Zdenek Zeman’s first team plans this season.
No doubt, the £5million-rated midfielder, who operates as best as a No.10, is a sensational young talent. Here’s a look at him in action:
Another deal rumoured to be on the edge of completion is the Whites’ swoop for Ternana front-man Mirco Antenucci:
— Leeds United (@LeedsUtd1992) August 19, 2014
The 30 year-old has spent his entire career in Italian football, boasting spells with Catania, Ascoli and Torino to name a few.
He hasn’t always been prolific, but netted 24 goals in Serie B during the 2009/10 campaign and in 2012 fired Il Tori back to the top flight. Last season, he claimed 19 goals in 40 league outings.
The 5 foot 10 forward is a natural leader too, currently donning the armband at Stadio Liberto Liberati, and it’s alleged he could be available to Leeds for as little as £640,000.
Here’s a look at Antenucci doing what he does best – making the onion bag ripple:
Another potential transfer gem sourced from Italian leagues that has reportedly come Leeds’ way is Palermo midfielder Davide di Gennaro.
— mark jackson (@markyj71) August 19, 2014
Much like Mirco Antenucci, the 26 year-old is a bit of a journeyman, having represented no less than nine clubs since his professional debut back in 2007.
But di Gennaro’s pedigree is undisputed – he’s a product of the AC Milan youth system and boasts 25 caps for Italy across the youth levels.
He’s also bagged 21 goals in his last 80 league outings, and finding the net is a major part of the Italian’s game. Take this impressive strike against Grosseto for example:
Di Gennaro helped Palermo claim the Serie B title last season, but Massimo Cellino reportedly remains undecided on the former San Siro starlet.
The current Elland Road roster is absent of a natural wide-man, the kind of player who can pick up the ball and drive the team 30 or 40 yards up the pitch through sheer skill and pace.
Rather tellingly, as the Whites muster up just three points from their first three Championship outings, none of their players have averaged more than one successful dribble per match, as viewable below:
One potential remedy could come in the form of Crystal Palace winger Jerome Thomas, who enjoyed an impressive, albeit rather brief, loan spell with Leeds during the 2012/13 campaign.
The 31 year-old was in decent form as the Eagles staved off relegation from the Premier League last term, as shown through his per-90-min statistics:
And his quality is well proven, throughout spells in both the top flight and the second tier with Arsenal, Charlton, Portsmouth and West Brom.
Thomas is a tricky winger, capable of cutting inside or hugging the touchline. He’d certainly offer Leeds something different going forward and amid the change in regime at Selhurst Park, could well find himself being offered out before the end of the transfer window.
Either way, a decent bid would certainly test Palace’s resolve, with his contract set to expire next summer. Here’s the former Addick setting up Luciano Becchio against Chelsea from back in 2012:
Another winger option for Leeds to consider is Hull City’s George Boyd. The Scotland international played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ 2013 Championship promotion and was influential in the top flight last year.
But he only managed nine Premier League starts, and that figure could further reduce next term following the signings of Andrew Robertson and Robert Snodgrass, whilst Robbie Brady returns from injury.
The 28 year-old comes with proven credentials at lower league level; he netted 64 times in 263 league outings for former side Peterborough.
That includes this sensational half-way line lob for the Posh:
Here’s a more extensive look at the former Stevenage star in action:
With Boyd regarded as a squad player at the KC Stadium and his contract set to expire in 2015, a reasonable bid could tempt Steve Bruce to sell.
Billy Sharp is an impressive addition to Leeds’ strikeforce but if the Whites are to challenge for promotion this season further recruitment is needed to replace the firepower of Ross McCormack.
One option still open to the Yorkshire club is Leicester City striker Chris Wood, who netted the equaliser to earn his side a point against Everton during the Premier League’s opening weekend:
But after splashing out £8million on Leonardo Ulloa, it’s believed the Foxes would be willing to part company with the 34-cap New Zealand international this summer.
He’s been linked with a number of Championship sides, most notably Wolves, but his potential Molineux deal collapsed.
Leeds would be wise to pick up the pieces – the 6 foot 3 striker is just 22 years of age but has already proved his potency at Championship level, with a return of 36 goals in his last 107 second tier appearances.
Here’s a look at Wood in action:
It’s believed he could be available for around £2million this summer.