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Leeds eyeing left back upgrade in Kai Wagner

Leeds United continue their search for a left back, with a new name having emerged…

What’s the latest?

That’s according to The Athletic, where reliable journalist Phil Hay offered some key details on what the Whites got up to during the World Cup break.

Moving onto transfer talk, he suggested that a striker and a left-back were of top priority for Jesse Marsch in January.

Upon the list of possibilities, Kai Wagner of the Philadelphia Union is mentioned. This is the first major suggestion he could move to Elland Road, yet could provide a better option than the likes of Jesus Vazquez, who have also been linked.

Better than Vazquez

Boasting far more experience than the young Spaniard, the 25-year-old German has been excelling in the MLS ever since leaving Germany in 2019.

He has gone on to feature 128 times for The Union, establishing himself as a fine offensive full-back.

Who would you prefer?

Jesus Vazquez

Jesus Vazquez

Kai Wagner

Kai Wagner

This is no greater exemplified than in his 32 career assists, which he seems to add to every season. This year alone saw him record nine assists.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old has only made 22 senior appearances.

Although he shows promise, his average rating of 6.45 from this season suggests he is yet to truly acclimatise to the physical demands of first-team football. Given their league position, the Yorkshire club cannot afford to wait around for the teenager to develop.

Conversely, Wagner has recorded an outstanding 7.48 rating across 2022, which is propped up by a sensational 2.6 key passes per 90.

However, all this work going forward does not diminish him defensively, as he also records 1.7 interceptions, 1.4 tackles and 1.6 clearances per game too, via Sofascore.

Veteran defender and former teammate Aurelien Collins provided further proof as to why he would succeed in the Premier League as if his remarkable statistics weren’t enough.

He told The Athletic:

“He has the mentality. He’s young. He’s a fighter. He’s not scared of the contact, which is something very important in this league, and I think that’s why right now he’s adapted very well.”

Clearly handed immense belief, Wagner himself noted what his usual mission statement is from his club: “For me on the left side, they want that I have to always move forward, move backwards, to win every tackle and to go also forward and create goals.”

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Can you get 100% on this Leeds World Cup transfer quiz? Question 1. After starring for England at the 2002 World Cup, how much did Leeds sell Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United for?

Should he bring this to Marsch’s side at his current level, it makes this potential transfer a no-brainer.

Whilst Vazquez likely boasts a higher ceiling, at this time they cannot afford people to learn on the job.