When Leeds failed to get Kemar Roofe’s contract wrapped up in time, it was a bitter blow for Marcelo Bielsa.
Roofe finished the 2018/19 campaign as the club’s top scorer on 15 goals but then left for pastures new.
He picked up the phone from a certain Vincent Kompany and joined the former Manchester City captain at Anderlecht. His spell ended after just a year, however.
The striker is now at Rangers and in the process of scoring ten strikes, he has put the Gers in a position to usurp Celtic and win the Scottish Premiership.
Arguably, Leeds have never been able to replace what he brought to their attack. They have attempted to do so with both Eddie Nketiah and Jean-Kevin Augustin, but they started a combined two league games for the Whites.
One of Roofe’s key qualities was pace. He used ruthless speed and quick thinking inside the penalty area to fashion goal scoring opportunities. The 28-year-old, unlike Patrick Bamford, could play on the shoulder. He also had eye-catching dribbling skills and close touch control.
It was these aspects that Eddie Gray thought Bielsa’s team would miss when he was injured in February 2019. He said: “It’s a blow for a number of reasons, goalscoring obviously. He’s lead the line well, but he’s got that little bit of pace. It is something we [Leeds] have not got in abundance. Real pace. I’m talking about, like Norwich pace.”
Indeed, despite Raphinha, it’s hard to say Bielsa has much speed in the final third. Of course, they move the ball incredibly quickly but in terms of athletic abilities, there isn’t a great deal in Leeds’ current squad.
That being said, they could finally make moves to finding their new Roofe in the January window.
United have been linked with a move for Montpellier forward Andy Delort, someone who could improve their forward line in a whole host of different ways.
For starters, he is a goal scorer. Delort has found the net on nine occasions this term and has also helped himself to six assists in the process. “He [Delort’s dad] always wanted me to be a striker,” the ten cap Algerian admitted last year.
Delort continued: “I wouldn’t say he forced me, but he pushed me towards that and helped me develop that love of scoring. I used to practice with my Dad and he’d say to me ‘if you miss the target two more times we’re going home’ and that threat ensured I kept hitting the target.”
Certainly this season he is demonstrating that love for beating the goalkeeper. Though, it’s his remarkable pace and dribbling that provide us with the closest similarities to Roofe.
The £27k-per-week earner has performed one dribble per match this season – just 0.3 more than the former Leeds striker’s career average, but crucially he can get beyond a defender. Delort was clocked as the fastest player in Ligue 1 last term, usurping even the likes of Kylian Mbappe.
He is a ruthless striker and life Roofe, would offer Bielsa the ability to run in behind. Having a different option to Bamford as the season goes on cannot be underestimated.