Leeds United continue to be linked with additions to bolster their midfield, with Victor Orta actively seeking out improvements in the engine room…
Having made early advances towards the 26-year-old, Nottingham Forest have already seen a bid dismissed in December. The Serie A club will reportedly hold out for a fee of around £8.5m, as they hope to keep hold of their player.
Having struggled this season domestically, Coulibaly retains a constant level of quality in one area – his defensive statistics.
Averaging a 6.75 Sofascore rating in the current Serie A campaign, this somewhat masks what benefits he can offer to a team when they play to his strengths.
Boasting the ability to break up play and set his team on the counter with a threaded pass, a deal here would bear many similarities with Leeds’ summer move to sign Tyler Adams from RB Leipzig.
The American has taken to Premier League football with ease due to his aggression, tenacity and immense quality. However, his final season in the Bundesliga was not too dissimilar from Coulibaly’s current campaign.
The then-Leipzig midfielder only averaged a 6.68 rating from Sofascore in 2021/22, and making just one tackle per match, it seemed unclear just what tempted the Yorkshire outfit to splash out £20m on the 23-year-old.
With Mali international Coulibaly, it could be argued that an even stronger foundation is in place to succeed at this level. He is averaging 3.1 tackles alongside 0.7 key passes per 90 this season, supplemented by an 85% pass accuracy.
The basic principles to be a successful midfielder at Elland Road are already in place, with his time at Ibrox on loan in 2018/19 having had a lasting impact on then-Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.
The 42-year-old praised Coulibaly, stating: “He (Lassana) is a machine, he’s exactly what this football club needed in terms of that enforcer in the middle of the park. He enjoys getting after people, biting into tackles and doing the ugly side of the game. He loves it and is only going to get better, there is more to come.”
If the gegenpress-loving Jesse Marsch could describe his quintessential player, many of the qualities listed by Gerrard would likely crop up. The Salernitana ace bears striking similarities with Adams, and should he be half as shrewd as the summer 2022 signing has been so far at Leeds, it would mark a fine deal by Orta and co.