Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has been handed a major transfer boost over Ajax star Nicolas Tagliafico.
Dutch journalist Valentijn Driessen revealed, during the broadcast of Ajax’s Europa League clash against AS Roma earlier last season, that the Whites “would like to have” the 28-year-old.
Now, according to De Telegraaf (via Voetbal Primeur), the Eredivisie giants are willing to let Tagliafico go on the cheap, although they are struggling to generate the kind of offers and interest to sell him at the moment.
Former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell was full of praise for the defender recently, when discussing his links with Leeds United, saying: “He is a top-quality player. He’s got lots of experience in the Champions League and on the international stage so I think it would be a smart signing.”
Since joining from Argentinian side Independiente, the £22.5m-rated Tagliafico has established himself as a key part of Ajax’s line-up, even helping them reach the Champions League semi-finals just a couple of seasons ago.
Dubbed as “fierce” and someone who “works hard”, he has got the kind of attacking instincts as a left-back that would surely please Bielsa. A profile by Football.London revealed: “In Argentina, Tagliafico is regarded as the heir to Zanetti because of his lung-busting stamina, excellent technique and continuous attacking threat.”
With a decent record of 13 goals and 18 assists in 135 games for Ajax as a left-back, it’s the 28-year-old’s underlying numbers that really stand out and make him someone who could be a game-changer for Bielsa.
As per WhoScored, Tagliafico averaged far more shots, key passes, dribbles and crosses per game in league football than Alioski has done last season, and is comfortably better than him defensively, too. While the two players are evenly matched for tackles made, it’s the Argentine who wins when it comes to interceptions and clearances, while also being dribbled past on fewer occasions.
Having a marauding left-back like Tagliafico – who was recorded by UEFA as having a faster sprint speed than Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi last season – could add some real quality and top-level experience to Bielsa’s squad at Elland Road.
The Leeds boss would be absolutely buzzing to have his fellow Argentine at Yorkshire, giving him a real upgrade on Alioski and someone who could bring that wealth of Champions League experience with him to help take that next step.