Leeds are ready to reignite their interest in Cagliari midfielder Nahitan Nandez this summer, and that could well land Marcelo Bielsa his own version of N’Golo Kante at Elland Road.
According to Argentinian journalist Luis Fregossi last summer, Leeds were ready to activate the release clause of Nandez, claiming that the Whites could pay the €36m (£32.5m) fee to bring him to the Premier League. He even suggested that the relationship between Bielsa and the player’s representative would “be key to the negotiation”.
However, a deal failed to materialise before the end of the deadline, and it now appears that Leeds are ready to go back in for the Uruguay international.
As per CentoTrutuno (via TEAMtalk), Bielsa has made Nandez a top target for the club this summer, and believes he would be a very good fit for his system.
Standing at 5 foot 7, just an inch taller than Chelsea’s star man, Kante, Nandez is in that similar mould of being small in stature, but a real giant in making his presence felt across the pitch.
A tough-tackling Uruguayan, his all-action approach makes him a real manager’s dream, and it’s something his agent, Pablo Bentancur, feels also makes him a real fan favourite too. He said: “Nandez is certainly a great player. The fans always like him because he leaves the last drop of sweat on the pitch.”
And when you look at his defensive numbers, you can see why just like Kante, fans seems to have a real affinity towards him. As per Sofascore, Nandez’s heat-map is a clear indication of the kind of incredible ground that he covers game to game, popping up everywhere to close down and make tackles.
His total of 6.3 duels won per game is actually significantly higher than Kante’s 4.6 this season, while he also perhaps tellingly, wins back possession more for his team too – 0.9 to 0.7. It’s no surprise then that the Cagliari ace has been described as an “a bit of an engine who gets up and down.”
And like the Frenchman, Nandez is growing in influence with the ball too, with his average of one key pass per game for Cagliari this campaign in Serie A higher than what Kante has managed in the Premier League with 0.8 per match.
With Mateusz Klich soon to turn 31 in a couple of months, Bielsa will no doubt be looking at trying to freshen things up in the middle of the park and moving away from one of his key midfield generals over the past few years.
In Nandez, he could find exactly the player he needs, and he could even vecome Leeds’ own version of Kante.