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Leeds: Adam Pope drops Joe Gelhardt claim

Leeds United may need to loan Joe Gelhardt out in the January transfer window.

What’s the talk?

That’s according to Adam Pope, with the BBC Sport journalist stating his belief on a recent episode of the Don’t Go To Bed Just Yet podcast that, following the arrival of Wilfried Gnonto this summer, the 20-year-old has slipped down Jesse Marsch’s attacking pecking order, before suggesting that a loan move this winter could be the best option for the centre-forward.

Regarding the England U21’s current situation at Elland Road, Pope said: “Well where does it leave Gelhardt at the moment? Because he’s either on the bench or obviously started at Brentford and it didn’t turn out great for him that day.

“But whilst others are scoring loads in the U21s, like your [Mateo] Josephs, your [Sonny] Perkins, Gnonto’s the name at the moment. Where’s it leaving him? If it continues like this does that lead to him maybe going out on loan in January? You don’t want to lose him at any point, do you?”

Big call

Considering just how exciting a prospect Gelhardt undoubtedly is, should the 20-year-old indeed be behind Gnonto in the Whites pecking order this season, Marsch simply must make a big call on the striker in January by sending him out on loan, an eventuality that would have looked extremely unlikely before the season got underway.

Indeed, the £9m-rated talent was arguably Leeds’ brightest spark in an otherwise bleak 2021/22 campaign, with the youngster often making a major impact from the bench last time out, scoring two goals and registering four assists over his 20 Premier League appearances – with only five of these outings coming from the off.

Furthermore, according to FBref, the £16.5k-per-week attacker also ranks in the top 9% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues and European competitions for dribbles completed per 90, in addition to the top 19% for progressive carries, the top 19% for assists, the top 25% for progressive passes, the top 29% for shots and the top 37% for non-penalty xG over the last 365 days.

These returns clearly demonstrate that, despite his limited game time, the 20-year-old is an extremely effective option in the final third, with Gelhardt excelling in his progression of the ball, being more than capable of creating chances for his teammates and frequently taking up dangerous positions in front of goal, which creates goalscoring opportunities of his own.

Further still, FBref also rank the England youth starlet in the top 1% of forwards for pressures per 90, as well as the top 10% for tackles, the top 26% for interceptions, the top 30% for blocks and the top 36% for clearances over the past 12 months – statistics that would appear to make him something of a perfect fit for an attacker in Marsch’s counter-pressing setup.

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Leeds Live journalist Beren Cross is also in no doubt about the youngster’s ability, stating on the Orta Know Better podcast last year: “I’m sure we’ll find out in the years ahead, but Gelhardt may well be the best bit of business the club has done in the last 20 years, if not ever because he just looks absolutely outrageous – very, very good player.”

As such, considering just how impressive a talent Gelhardt clearly is, should Marsch indeed believe that the striker will not receive a great deal of game time this season – having been left out of the 20-man squad to face Aston Villa on Sunday – the 48-year-old simply must send the 20-year-old out on loan in January, as the former Wigan Athletic starlet is being wasted on the fringes.