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Leeds: Azzedine Ounahi would be a Mateusz Klich upgrade

Leeds United have apparently stepped up their pursuit of long-term target Azzedine Ounahi, who could be a significant upgrade on modern-day Elland Road hero Mateusz Klich…

French journalist Seb Ecrivain took to Twitter on Friday morning to issue an update on the Whites’ efforts to sign the Morocco midfielder.

He wrote: “#Leeds accelerates to secure the services of Moroccan star Azzedine #Ounahi. The club is ready to make financial efforts to win this case.”

Having reportedly made an offer of €25m (£22m) earlier this week, Victor Orta will wait to receive the response to this opening gambit and see whether these additional financial efforts are required.

In a month where the Elland Road faithful bid farewell to Klich, who has now joined DC United, it seems clear that Jesse Marsch is keen on finding someone to instantly replace the 32-year-old’s role within the squad.

The Poland international had become something of a talismanic figure for Marsch and his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa, playing a starring role in the Whites’ triumphant return to the Premier League in 2020 after a 16-year absence.

He feature in all but one match of their Championship-winning 2019/20 campaign, scoring six goals and setting up another five whilst averaging 1.9 tackles per game.

To replace that output may be difficult for Leeds, although it is not controversial to say that Klich’s decline had been visible in recent years. As such, he did not make a Premier League start this season, and whenever he featured as a substitute, the 32-year-old could only average a 6.54 Sofascore rating.

Replacing a figure such as this often proves tricky, and finding a player on the market who can offer such a unique blend of offensive qualities and defensive steel is no easy feat.

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That duly explains why Orta must be so keen on securing this prospective deal for Ounahi, given how the Moroccan would mark such a big upgrade on the present-day Klich in a number of attributes.

The 22-year-old is enjoying a solid season for Angers, recording match averages of 1.2 key passes, 1.4 tackles and 1.1 interceptions (via Sofascore) to showcase his capabilities both in and out of possession.

Despite these returns, along with the three big chances Ounahi has created, he is yet to have a goal contribution in the current campaign, although he does rank in the top 1% for dribbles completed by midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, outlining him as a progressive presence in the engine room.

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However, it was at the World Cup where he truly impressed, and it is his performances in Qatar which have likely spurred Leeds onto such a strong charge to try and sign him.

Ounahi shone on the biggest stage in football, earning a 6.97 Sofascore rating and receiving this praise from USA-bases coach Jed Davies: “Someone explain to me how it’s possible Ounahi played in the 3rd tier of France 2 yrs ago & only got called up for Morocco this year. Genuinely world class, zero dispute.”

Boasting a proficiency in all the attributes Klich had offered, and at just 22 years old, the Moroccan would mark the perfect replacement for the departed Polish stalwart to instantly upgrade Leeds’ squad.