Leeds United’s recruitment since Marcelo Bielsa took the reigns at the club has been nothing short of impressive. It’s hard to disagree when they sit top of the Championship standings a year after crashing out of the playoffs. That’s two top-three finishes under the Argentine.
And the west Yorkshire outfit could well be a Premier League side next term. If the season cannot be resumed, then the EFL will decide the final table via an unweighted points-per-game system which sees Leeds go up as champions – but this depends on the PL confirming that there will be relegations.
It means that this summer their moves in the transfer market will be huge as they can’t become a one-season wonder after a 16-year absence from the top-flight.
Just look at how things have gone for Aston Villa after they spent around £120m on new players yet find themselves embroiled in a relegation scrap.
This week The Athletic’s Phil Hay has shed some light on their plans and offered up potential targets. He said:
“A portion of the club’s transfer money and the budget set aside will be taken up by the conversion of loans into permanent deals. Leeds are already committed to signing Helder Costa permanently from Wolves. They are set on taking Jack Harrison from Manchester City and Illan Meslier from Lorient and have options to acquire both. They are also obligated to sign Jean-Kevin Augustin from RB Leipzig (for a fee in excess of £15 million) although that might be open to discussion if Augustin is in two minds about whether he wants the move. He hasn’t found his feet yet but he came with Bielsa’s blessing in January.
“It’s obvious that if Leeds can’t retain Ben White they’ll need another first-rate centre-back. They also have to make sure that they’re properly resourced at left-back. Manchester City’s Yan Couto, a right-sided Brazilian, is a player I’ve heard them strongly linked with.
“I’m told that the targets Leeds had before the pandemic haven’t changed. But nobody is quite sure what the post-COVID market will look like or how it will operate.”
He claims that the club will set aside money to try and keep hold of some of their successful loan stars such as Man City’s Jack Harrison and Lorient’s Illan Meslier. They are also, of course, obligated to buy Jean-Kevin Augustin and have to fork out for Helder Costa.
They could well try for Ben White too.
Interestingly, Hay also adds that they could go back to City to nab young Brazilian starlet Yan Couto on loan but most importantly, that their plans haven’t changed because of the pandemic.
It just remains to be seen what sort of market there is when – and if – football returns to normality.
The centre-back position will be one of Marcelo Bielsa’s biggest challenges ahead of next season as he faces the prospect of losing Gaetano Berardi and White, meaning only skipper Liam Cooper is the only senior option in the role.
AND in other news, Leeds fans react to Tom Lees question…