It has been well documented throughout the summer that Leeds United have an urgent need for wingers.
This deficiency arguably stems back to the departures of Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The rest of the squad has been carefully crafted by Coach Uwe Rosler and Owner Massimo Cellino but still the winger issue lingers with the season starting next weekend. It looks like a deal is very close for Brentford left winger Stuart Dallas, with whom Uwe Rosler has worked with previously at Griffin Park.
The current right winger Sam Byram has made it clear his preference is to slot back into the right back berth he is more accustomed to.
This leaves cover and first team wingers still necessary. Brief interest in Nottingham Forest wide-man Michail Antonio was quickly brushed aside when it became apparent Leeds could not afford his services.
Having baulked at Sheffield United’s demand of £2million for skilful Jamie Murphy and cooled our interest in Sunderland’s Will Buckley, here are FIVE additions and/or alternatives to Stuart Dallas that could do the business for Leeds in Rosler’s favoured formation of 4-3-3…
It seems crazy that this youngster is still only 20 years of age, having made his Premier League debut way back in October 2012 in a 1-0 defeat away at Norwich City.
Having been schooled for much of his earlier footballing life in the youth system of his hometown Stuttgart with the German ethos dominating his development, he joined Arsenal at 16 making it the perfect finishing school for his talents. Able to play on the left or right, utilising a short stocky build, he packs a punch supplementing his frightening speed.
He can terrorise defences as he looks to drive towards his opponents. In desperate need of games, only playing 20 senior fixtures for the Gunners, they will no doubt look to loan him out. With West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle sniffing around, The Whites will hope his requirement for regular playing time will attract him to Elland Road for the season.
Compatriot Uwe Rosler would see him as an ideal signing with his pace, power and eagerness to press.
Blessed with natural talent he has always worked hard, plying his trade on loan with both Southend and Swindon in the two seasons after his 18th birthday. Coming back to parent club Reading in 2009 he has been a regular, a consistent performer.
Having his best goal scoring season in their one term in the Premier League in 2012/13, he racked up seven goals in 25 games for the Royals. Now 26, he has a raft of experience having accumulated 26 caps for Wales, playing an important role as Gareth Bale’s ‘partner in crime’ during the on-going 2016 European Championship Qualifiers.
Reportedly garnering interest from Swansea City, and with a figure of £4million bandied around, he appears to be angling for an exit. Quick, with an eye for goal, he has the know-how at Championship level and will probably be available for around £3-4million.
With his contract expiring next season, Reading will want to cash in with it looking increasingly unlikely new terms can be agreed.
Technically gifted, he was a late bloomer only joining Tottenham Hotspurs as a scholar at 17 years of age. Not blessed with an abundance of speed, he makes up for this with his vision and occasional eye catching trickery.
Showing his class whilst on loan at American outfit San Jose Earthquakes in 2011/12 he returned, deeming himself unlucky to not be in Spurs first team plans. Taking his opportunities with Derby over the past two season, he has developed into an accomplished Championship player with that spark needed to change a game. Last season he scored three and assisted a further three in 34 appearances, but will be hoping to complete 90 minutes on more occasions this coming season.
Another one in the final year of his contract, now is the time to test the waters. Equally suited to drifting inside and bouncing passes off of Chris Wood as he would be picking out the subtle runs of Mirco Antenucci, he’d be a great acquisition with a fee eclipsing £1million very unlikely.
At 27, it is peak time in his career, especially considering his late start and he will be desperate to build upon his eight international caps with Jamaica.
The most suited on this list to ply crosses to the likely lone striker Chris Wood, Albrighton is very much a classic winger, a dying breed. A quick agile footballer who will get to the by-line and lift a cross into the box.
Capable of delivering early, his final ball is that of a well practised technician. Reliable from set pieces, his ability is undeniable. Rising through the ranks at Aston Villa, he graduated as part of a talented generation. Making over 100 appearances in his six year spell, his career stalled before joining newly promoted Leicester City last season, scoring twice in 18 games.
Leicester escaped relegation under controversial manager Nigel Pearson. Having acquired him on a free last summer, they may be tempted by a decent offer for his services. It’s worth testing their resolve with Albrighton having much of his career left at 25.
Now this is the dream target. The Leeds born winger came out of the fruitful Thorp Arch in 2003 but with the club in dire straits, he was sold to Spurs for around £1million in 2005.
Having made over 350 appearances for the North London club, and being a part of the 2006 and 2010 England World Cup squads, he is on another level to the rest on this list.
A nippy speedster, he jinks around defenders. The saying ‘twisting their blood’ aptly describes how he defeats opponents before unleashing sharp cutbacks from tight angles. This dream could come true with him deemed surplus to requirements at White Hart Line. Whilst Everton (the team who he spent the latter half of the season on loan with), have shown interest, there has been nothing concrete forthcoming.
Whilst he would need to take a pay-cut to come to Leeds, this isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. The lure of a welcoming homecoming can prove strong with Stewart Downing recently dropping into the Championship with Middlesbrough the club where he received his footballing education. The fee would be in the region of £5million which is doable and equally worth it with his quality level sure to shine through in the 2nd tier.
We shall see but we live in hope.