Leeds United enjoyed a busy summer transfer window, with the big money departures of both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha affording Victor Orta a considerable budget to play with in order to adequately strengthen Jesse Marsch’s first team squad ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
And, with the director of football bringing the likes of Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca, Darko Gyabi, Wilfried Gnonto and Sonny Perkins to Elland Road prior to September’s transfer deadline, the Spaniard very much did a stellar job over the summer window.
However, while both Gnonto and Perkins are undoubtedly incredibly exciting attacking prospects for the future, one area of the Leeds squad that the 43-year-old failed to land a first-team-ready addition was at centre-forward – with Patrick Bamford and Joe Gelhardt being Marsch’s only viable options up top.
This was not through lack of trying, with the Whites being linked with a number of attacking talents over the course of the summer – including the likes of Stade Rennais FC striker Martin Terrier, Paris Saint-Germain forward Arnaud Kalimuendo and Fenerbahce frontman Mergim Berisha.
And, considering just how well the latter of this trio has performed following a season-long loan switch to German side FC Augsburg, Orta’s decision not to sanction a £4.2m move for the 24-year-old already looks to have been something of a mistake for the Whites’ director of football.
Indeed, over his three Bundesliga appearances in the current campaign, the £5.4m-rated talent has been in exceptional form, having already bagged one goal, registered one assist and created two big chances for his teammates, in addition to taking an average of 1.7 shots, making 1.3 key passes and winning 5.3 duels per game.
These returns have seen the £40k-per-week striker average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.90, currently ranking him as Augsburg’s second-best performer in the top flight of German football.
The 24-year-old who Max Camilleri dubbed “amazing” particularly impressed in the Fuggerstädter’s 1-0 victory over reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last time out, as, despite being under considerable pressure for large portions of the match, Berisha expertly dispatched his one chance in front of goal – sealing a famous three points for his side.
So eye-catching have the performances of the former Germany U21 international been that Augsburg sporting director, Stefan Reuter, stated his belief that the centre-forward could well be a surprise inclusion in Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad this winter.
Concerning the striker, Reuter said: “Mergim Berisha is a player worth thinking about if there is a surprise in Germany’s World Cup squad.”
As such, considering his fantastic displays in Germany so far this season, coupled with the fact that he would have been available for as little as £4.2m this summer, the argument that Orta had something of a mare when deciding against a move for Berisha is an easy one to make.