Leeds United have been name-checked as one of the Premier League clubs interested in signing Arsenal starlet Eddie Nketiah.
According to journalist Ekrem Konur on Twitter, Marcelo Bielsa’s side are in the race to sign the England under-21 international, with the likes of Brentford and Aston Villa also mentioned.
He added that Nketiah wants to leave the Emirates Stadium in the January transfer window due to a lack of game-time, and is keen for more first team football elsewhere.
While he may only have played half a season under Bielsa – he featured just 19 times (mostly off the bench) and scored five goals for the Whites – the £13m-rated forward made a real impression at Elland Road during a loan spell in 2019/20, not least with the manager himself.
The Argentine said of the 22-year-old: “He’s a specialist great player with a lot of resources and our play is a collective way of playing and one player needs to adapt to this style.
“For this reason when we felt he was part of the team we thought that we were going to feel the same and that he would continue with us. He didn’t take this decision but he is a great player, an excellent professional and he had very good behaviour, he is a gentleman in every sense.”
Former Leeds striker Noel Whelan has also waxed lyrical about Nketiah, claiming that his style of play is very much reminiscent of Jermain Defoe.
The 46-year-old said: “He reminds me of another Jermain Defoe and look at how well he did at West Ham. He’s very much that similar sort of player. He plays off the shoulder, very dangerous in the box. He’s a player you can’t take your eyes off because his movement’s so good.”
Crucially, despite the lack of consistent game-time at Elland Road, Nketiah left Leeds clearly feeling like he learned a lot in Yorkshire, and he paid tribute to Bielsa in particular after his recall.
The striker said: “I’m grateful for my time at Leeds. Bielsa is a very demanding manager, so every day I was pushing myself to the limit in training, and I feel that mentality has stuck with me at Arsenal, to always give my all in training and in matches.
“I also learned a lot defensively off the ball with the way Leeds play, I learned a lot about the importance of pressing from the front, defending from the front and the impact it can have to the team and the way we play.
“I definitely learned a lot, I put myself out of my comfort zone which was a good thing for me, it’s made me a lot stronger mentally and has improved me as a player. I’m grateful for my time there.”