As is always the case once a transfer window ends, there will be players who slip through the net that end up proving you wrong. And in Leeds United’s case, that man could well be Nicolas Gonzalez.
Reports over the course of the summer suggested that Marcelo Bielsa’s side were very much interested in bringing the Argentina international to Elland Road from Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart, but a deal failed to materialise.
Since then, he has been in outstanding form for the German side, showcasing just why Leeds were interested in luring him to the Premier League in the first place, and why they must surely regret missing out on his signature.
In just 10 games in the German top-flight this campaign, he’s scored five times and provided a further two assists, and was in particularly excellent form against Augsburg on Sunday afternoon.
He scored one from the spot, and also set up Gonzalo Castro’s goal as Stuttgart ran out emphatic 4-1 winners. But it was his overall game that was really outstanding, providing two key passes, sending in two crosses, and winning four duels too – as per Sofascore, he finished with the highest match rating of any player on the pitch with an 8.2.
Stuttgart’s head coach, Pellegrino Matarazzo, said of him: “He’s got a lot of qualities, but what I like best about him is that he’s a winner. He wants to win at all costs. He always gives 100 percent, and gets stuck in. He’s very important for us.”
That mentality would have fit in well at Elland Road, where Bielsa has got his players running through brick walls week-in and week-out for him, covering lung-busting amounts of distances in games and getting involved in the physical challenges.
And when you compare Gonzalez to Patrick Bamford’s performances this season, then it really sways towards the former. The Argentine has a far better minutes per goal ratio, has missed far less big chances, and provided double the amount of key passes and successful dribbles per game too.
If there’s one signing Leeds may look back with a sense of ‘what if’, then Gonzalez might be that man.