If Leeds decide to strengthen any area in the January transfer window, then the priority has to be in defence.
The Whites have only just welcomed Liam Cooper back from injury, but Robin Koch and Diego Llorente are both still on the sidelines. They can be thankful, therefore, that the market is open for business.
According to Foot Mercato, Leeds are one of the teams interested in signing young Lens defender Loic Bade.
The report states that the centre-back is a very popular player and thus, both Lyon and Rennes are monitoring his situation.
The 20-year-old also has willing suitors away from France as Leeds are reportedly eyeing Bade along with Germany’s Borussia Monchengladbach and Italy’s AC Milan.
As per Transfermarkt, the Frenchman is valued at just £5.4m, so he presumably wouldn’t cost Victor Orta a great deal of money if he did push ahead with a deal.
Bade is hardly a household name but he has quickly emerged as one of the best young defenders in Ligue 1 and he could very quickly follow in the footsteps of William Saliba and Wesley Fofana.
Those two young centre-backs caught the eye in Ligue 1 for St Etienne before moving to the Premier League, joining Arsenal and Leicester, respectively.
It’s difficult to be certain about whether he’d take to English football as well as someone like Fofana, or if he’d take time to settle in as Saliba has, but either way, he’s an impressive talent.
Described as a “dominant” defender who plays like Raphael Varane by football talent scout Jacek Kulig, he has a host of qualities that could be game-changing for Leeds.
A crucial point to note, however, is that statistically, he is better than current stand-in defender Pascal Struik.
The Lens prodigy, who stands at a mighty 6 foot 3, has won 4.3 aerial duels per game this season while coming out on top of 2.2 tackles a match. On top of that, when watching Bade, it’s clear to see that his reading of the game is phenomenal, and the fact that he is making 2.8 interceptions a game on average, backs that up.
If you compare his numbers to Struijk, there are vast differences. The Dutchman has only wins, on average, two aerial battles a match, whilst avering just 1.8 tackles a game, so he wins fewer headers and challenges than Bade.
Clearly, Bade would be an upgrade on the Leeds youngster, but he could also offer more than the likes of Liam Cooper in the air.
That’s because he has, on average, won more aerial duels than any Leeds player per game this season. His numbers would also rank sixth among Marcelo Bielsa’s men for tackles, if they were compared to the Leeds squad.
But can he do it against the very best? Well, he was part of the Lens defence that kept a clean sheet and won 1-0 against PSG earlier this season. They didn’t have Kylian Mbappe or Neymar on that day but given that PSG still have some excellent players, he’s proven that he can be more than competent in the bigger games.
With Leeds lacking genuine centre-back cover and after their defence collapsing so badly against Crawley in the FA Cup last weekend when they had to rotate, signing a player with Bade’s expertise would prove invaluable as the season reaches its conclusion.
The 3-0 defeat last Sunday clearly showed that Bielsa can’t rely on those coming through the academy just yet. Thus, he needs to invest in the market and sign someone like Bade. The defender has potential – just as Leeds’ current crop of U23s have – but pivotally, he’s already proving himself in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Orta needs to bring him to Elland Road.