Leeds United may well be on their way to the Premier League, but it’d be hard to argue that they have a squad ready to make the step up.
Indeed, although the Whites have been brilliant, their team lacks depth, and it’s still largely the same group of players who were finishing 13th before Marcelo Bielsa arrived.
That isn’t to say that some individuals aren’t ready for the step-up, Kalvin Phillips has been courted by some of the country’s biggest teams, while Pablo Hernandez has previously proven himself in the top-flight with Swansea.
Unfortunately, Leeds let one player who looked like he was Premier League quality leave the club last year, and they still haven’t signed a replacement.
Of course, we’re talking about Samu Saiz.
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The tricky Spaniard was a revelation when he burst onto the scene at Elland Road, contributing to 12 goals from midfield in a United side that struggled throughout 17/18, putting up 1.8 key passes and 1.6 shots per game.
Unfortunately, he became unsettled in England, his form dipped – failing to score in 2018/19 and he left the club. However, for some reason or another, United haven’t replaced him.
Leeds haven’t brought in another attacking midfielder of that ilk, instead they moved Hernandez inside from the right and utilised Helder Costa down that flank.
The problem is that Hernandez isn’t as good when he’s in the middle, and Costa has been a flop on the whole.
The Wolves loanee has contributed to just five goals all season, and Hernandez’s stats from last term show you where he’s more comfortable, contributing to 18 goals in 26 games from the right, compared to six in 14 through the middle.
Saiz hasn’t been replaced, Bielsa has just rejigged things so that we don’t notice all that much.
To be fair to the Argentine, it’s worked, Leeds are top of the league, and there can be no complaints about how the season so far has gone.
However, once they ascend to the top-flight things may change, and they’ll need to urgently replace Saiz, not only to add depth but to be allowed to move their talisman back into his favoured position.