With Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United facing the very real possibility of dropping out of the Premier League on the final day of the current campaign this weekend, questions will undoubtedly be asked as to where this season went so wrong for the Whites.
One potential answer for Leeds’ demise could be last summer’s transfer business, when Victor Orta spent £25m on Daniel James, £13m on Junior Firpo, £11m on Jack Harrison and £1m on Kristoffer Klaesson, signings which have well and truly failed to take the Whites to the next level following their ninth-placed finish in the top flight last time out.
Indeed, Patrick Bamford’s numerous injury layoffs this season have highlighted just how lacking the Whites squad is of another out and out number nine, with Marsch’s side having currently scored 22 goals fewer than the 62 they managed last term.
As such – while hindsight is a wonderful thing – it is now clear that, instead of spending £25m on the signing of a new winger, the Spanish sporting director should instead have concentrated his focus on the signing of Brentford centre-forward Ivan Toney – with whom Leeds were linked with a £30m swoop in March of last year.
Indeed, following the Bees’ promotion to the top flight, the £31.5m-rated striker has been in exceptional form over his 32 Premier League appearances, scoring 12 goals, registering five assists and creating ten big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.6 shots, making 1.3 key passes and winning 8.5 duels – at a success rate of 52% – per game.
These returns have seen the £31k-per-week hitman average a simply breathtaking SofaScore match rating of 7.31, not only ranking the 26-year-old as Thomas Franks’ second-best performer in the league but also as the fourth-best forward in the division as a whole – behind only Son Heung-min, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane.
And now, in a strange twist of fate, Leeds face a trip to Brentford on the final day of the season, with Marsch’s men needing to secure all three points against the Bees if they are to have any hope of avoiding the drop – with Toney’s goals against the Whites having the potential to cost Orta’s side around £120m if they were to condemn the club to the second tier.
As such, it would very much appear as if the Spaniard’s decision not to follow his initial enquiry up with a firm £30m offer for the striker last year has proven to be something of an extremely costly shocker for the Whites.