After crashing to a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Crawley in the FA Cup last week, Leeds United would have been hoping for a return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Instead, Marcelo Bielsa’s side slipped to yet another loss, this time 1-0 to Brighton, and Patrick Bamford certainly didn’t cover himself in glory with his performance.
With reports in recent days and weeks linking the Whites with a move for a new striker in this January transfer window – the likes of Christian Kouame of Fiorentina and M’Bala Nzola of Spezia being two of them – the pressure is well and truly on for Bamford to prove he should be the club’s out-and-out striker for both now and for the future.
But if Victor Orta was watching on at Elland Road on Saturday, then he will have been left unimpressed by the former Chelsea man’s efforts, and recognise that he absolutely has to dive into the transfer market in this January window.
As per Sofascore, he finished with a 6.5 match rating, the joint-worst of any Leeds player on the pitch, and when you look at some of his key stats it’s easy to see why.
With Brighton playing a back three, Bamford’s task as a lone striker was always going to be cut out, but he really struggled to get involved in the game and the build-up play for the Whites.
He had a measly 11 touches of the ball in the 90 minutes that he was on the pitch, by far the worst of any starter – to put that into context, Ian Poveda, who came on for the final quarter of an hour of the contest for Raphinha, had 13 touches.
Bamford made just four successful passes too, and that was particularly disappointing because Bielsa’s side needed an outlet and someone to hang on to the ball and get some runners next in and around him.
The likes of Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and Dan Burn all kept him in check with relative ease, with Bamford losing every single duel that he was involved in and struggling to cope with the Seagulls backline’s physicality.
When you compare Bamford’s display against Brighton to how he’s done this season, then things really get laid bare. Per game in the Premier League this season, he’s averaged 23.3 touches, 2.5 duels won and three shots per game.
On Saturday, he managed significantly less than that in all departments, even attempting no official shots on goal – his performance was rather summed up by the amount of near misses he had in terms of narrowly missing contact with the ball.
Leeds’ number nine let his manager down with a woeful display, but rather significantly, it made it clear to the club’s hierarchy that a new striker has to be bought.