Marcelo Bielsa played it coy when the media asked him about transfers on Thursday, but what do the boss’ pre-West Brom comments really mean?
Leeds travel to West Brom on Saturday evening for what is sure to be one of the matches of the season.
The Baggies have scored the most goals in the division while also conceding more than any other team in the top 15, and the Whites certainly know how to find the back of the net.
While most of Bielsa’s press conference focused on the match itself, the boss did have something to say on January transfers, and it will be hugely significant in the promotion chase.
“(It will be) difficult,” he said when asked about signing players in January, insisting he is happy with his current squad.
The boss went on to say the club could look to strengthen in some areas, but they will not need to do so with several key players returning from injuries.
Bielsa has already proven he can get the best out of a relatively small squad, but his side is just one injury away from an absolute crisis at the back.
Gaetano Berardi is expected to miss considerable time with a muscle problem, while Luke Ayling is out for around two months with a knee injury. That leaves just two fit senior centre backs in Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper, both of whom have shown a tendency to pick up little injuries in the past.
Leeds simply do not have the means to upgrade their squad in the same manner as Wolves did to earn promotion, but if they don’t sign a centre back in January it could be Bielsa’s biggest mistake yet.
The Championship season is extremely hectic and intense, and fatigue could play a huge factor in the promotion chase if the Whites do not improve their squad.
The attacking players who lead the press will suffer the worst of it, so it could be very bad news for the likes of Mateusz Klich and Samuel Saiz. Klich in particular has been nothing short of sensational so far this camapign, but the Polish international simply cannot play every minute of every game in Bielsa’s high-tempo system.
Injuries have already played a huge part in Leeds’ season, and they will come thick and fast if the boss has no options to rotate his attacking players with.
So, Leeds fans, where do you think you need to strengthen in January? Are signings a necessity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…