Leeds United put on an impressive defensive performance against Newcastle United on New Years’ Eve at St James’ Park where they earned a well-fought point and Jesse Marsch will surely be hoping it’s the confidence boost the team needs to inspire improved performances in 2023.
The West Yorkshire outfit are now 14th in the Premier League and three points clear of the relegation zone heading into the new year, however, the Leeds boss will surely be searching for ways to even further improve the side’s points tally to ensure they finish in a more comfortable position and don’t get sucked into a relegation scrap over the second half of the season.
Luckily for Marsch and Victor Orta, the January transfer window is now open for business so he could be given the golden opportunity to strengthen key areas of this squad during the next few weeks should the powers at Elland Road sanction moves for new additions.
One player who has been recently linked with a move to the club is Villarreal ace Alfonso Pedraza, a talented left-back who could be exactly what Leeds needs to add depth to the position.
At present, Marsch only has one natural left-back in Junior Firpo, however, the former RB Leipzig manager has been leaning on centre-back Pascal Struijk to occupy the position.
As a result, the signing of Pedraza would be an important addition for Leeds heading into the remainder of the season, especially considering how efficient the La Liga star is on the left side.
The 26-year-old – who was dubbed “powerful” and a “machine” by BT Sport’s Simon Harrison – ranks in the top 5% of his positional peers across the top five European leagues for non-penalty goals, dribbles completed, progressive passes and touches, and this season so far has continued to shine in the Spanish top-flight.
Over 11 league appearances, Pedraza has registered one assist, created two big chances and completed 52% successful dribbles, as well as averaging 1.5 tackles, 1.4 shots on goal and winning 4.4 duels per game, proving that he has the ability to not only win possession of the ball but also pose an attacking threat.
The positional peers have shared many similar attributes over their season so far including pass completion (75.7% v 66.1%), goal-creating actions per 90 minutes (0.33 v 0.39), tackles won (16 v 11), aerial duels won (9 v 9) and clearances (14 v 11). On that evidence, it provides an indication that they are both comfortable in possession while demonstrating equal offensive threat.
With that being said, if Leeds could secure the signing of Pedraza – who has a transfer valuation of €15m (£13m) – there is no doubt that he could have a positive impact on the team and their Premier League campaign, as well as giving Marsch a left-sided full-back he can trust to deliver in the position.