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Leeds: Victor Orta made a blunder with Teemu Pukki in 2020

Leeds United avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth at the end of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign as they finished three points ahead of Burnley.

They were in danger of falling through the trapdoor on the final day of the season and survived with the help of a 2-1 win away at Brentford.

The Whites found it difficult throughout 2021/22, changing managers midway through as Jesse Marsch replaced Marcelo Bielsa, and one area in which they struggled was the number nine position.

Rodrigo, who also played in midfield at times, was the club’s top-scoring natural striker with six goals. Dan James, who played out wide and up front, managed four and Patrick Bamford found the back of the net twice.

This came after Bamford was the only Leeds centre-forward to hit double figures, with 17 goals, in the 2020/21 campaign following their promotion back to the top-flight.

These statistics show that the club have struggled for regular goalscorers in the number nine position outside of the former Chelsea man’s purple patch the season before last.

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Victor Orta could have rectified this in the transfer market in 2020 but made a blunder as he failed in a swoop to sign a now-proven Premier League centre-forward.

Journalist Nick Mashiter revealed that the Whites were one of a number of clubs interested in signing Teemu Pukki from Norwich in the summer of 2020.

However, they were unable to snap him up from Carrow Road and that was a mistake by Orta as he could have been a sublime addition to the squad.

He was coming off the back of 11 goals and three assists in the 2020/21 Premier League campaign for the Canaries, as he caught the eye in spite of his team being relegated from the division.

Norwich were able to keep hold of the predator, who former striker Iwan Roberts dubbed a “goal machine“, in the Championship and he fired them to the title with a whopping 26 goals and four assists, having managed 29 goals and 10 assists in their 2018/19 title success.

This gave him an opportunity to prove himself again in the top-flight and he did just that as he plundered another 11 goals and three assists.

His team were sent back down to the second tier once again but the Finland international, who was once described as being “unplayable” by former manager Daniel Farke, was able to prove that he is a reliable goalscorer at the top table of English football.

Leeds underperformed their open play xG in the Premier League by 8.31 in 2021/22 and Pukki has scored an impressive 22 goals in two seasons in the division from 22.97 xG, which shows that he is consistent in front of goal and does not let his side down often when chances come his way.

Therefore, not signing the gem – who has 81 goals and 23 assists for Norwich in total – was a blunder by Orta as he could have been the reliable number nine that Leeds have been lacking.

He would also have suited the pressing style of play in place at Elland Road under Bielsa and Marsch. In the 2021/22 campaign, he made almost 100 more pressures in the attacking third than any other player in the division, which shows that he works hard and looks to force mistakes out of the opposition.