Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa could build an exciting midfield partnership by signing Huddersfield Town star Lewis O’Brien this summer.
Journalist Alan Nixon had previously claimed on Twitter that O’Brien was “very near” to the top of the shortlist for Leeds as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of the new Premier League season.
And in recent days, The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth delivered an update on the situation, saying: “He’s a player Leeds actually like, one they’ve expressed genuine interest in and, all things considered, one for whom a deal should be achievable in every sense for a Premier League club like Leeds, even if the initial discussions between the two clubs failed to yield any kind of progression.
“While nothing is imminent or even on-going – all was quiet as the week began – The Yorkshire Evening Post understands the two parties were not a million miles apart in their valuation.”
As per WhoScored, O’Brien averaged two tackles and one interception per game in the Championship last season, which is only slightly less than the 2.6 tackles and 1.6 interceptions Kalvin Phillips managed per Premier League match.
And it isn’t just his defensive work that really sets him apart as a potentially perfect foil for Phillips in the engine room.
Former Huddersfield goalkeeper, Matt Glennon, said: “He closes down until the 95th, 96th minute, still running to the corners, stopping defenders, he’s got unlimited energy.
“Lewis O’Brien wants to put the hard yards in and wants to be at the very top of where he can get to. He’s one of those lads who works ridiculously hard which, for me, is your minimum in any league, but he’s got that quality, the drop of a shoulder, that strength to keep people off him, a low centre of gravity to glide past people, arm aloft when they try to knock him off the ball.
“He has pace and he can finish as well, with that nice left foot. He’s come on a lot in the last three years.”
That ability to find the back of the net could be a crucial addition to Bielsa’s midfield options, with Mateusz Klich the club’s highest-scoring central midfielder last season with just four.
Having someone like O’Brien who can break into the box while Phillips sits back and dictates the play could give the Whites that extra cutting edge when going forward.
It could be the making of an impressive duo for Bielsa and Leeds.