Leeds United looked set to sign Bamba Dieng from Marseille on deadline day before that move collapsed but Jesse Marsch has an ideal replacement in Joe Gelhardt.
Fabrizio Romano confirmed that Leeds had pulled out of a deal to sign the 22-year-old forward having previously agreed terms, after the Senegal international had his head turned by a potential move to OGC Nice and failed to board his flight to England.
While Dieng could have been a quality addition to Marsch’s squad, after he burst onto the scene with Marseille last season by hitting eight goals in Ligue 1, his failed signing perhaps gives the American manager the perfect opportunity to unleash a young alternative in Leeds’ own Gelhardt.
Indeed, the English talent deserves a chance to be unleashed for a prolonged period of time in the first team, even before Marsch hands a chance to Leeds’ only deadline day signing in Wilfried Gnonto.
The 20-year-old, who signed from Wigan Athletic in 2020, has already made 27 appearances for Leeds’ first team, in which he has contributed two goals and four assists, showing bright signs of life in his limited game time so far.
He has also proven himself to be prolific with the academy side, hitting 18 goals in just 28 appearances, so it is clear that he is ready to contribute more with the senior team.
He has come off the bench in four of Leeds’ fixtures so far this season, so he is clearly in Marsch’s plans, but the manager could get more out of him by handing him a rare start, especially after Rodrigo’s injury earlier this week.
Patrick Bamford is also yet to rediscover the form he showed in the 2020/21 season when he hit 17 top-flight goals, so perhaps it is time that someone else was given a shot up front, and Gelhardt could be a superb option, especially if he lives up to his obvious potential.
Gelhardt earned a lot of praise from talkSPORT presenter Adrian Durham last season after an impressive cameo against Wolves.
He said: “Joe Gelhardt for Leeds, was astonishing at the weekend. This is somebody who is 19, he’s not even 20 until May.
“What a player this kid is going to be. Joe Gelhardt rescued Leeds and Bielsa, he was brilliant. By the way, he should be involved in far more games. I think he’s been a bit reluctant to use him because of his age, but get him in there.”
Gnonto will take some time to settle into his new surroundings and moving to a new country at a young age could be a challenging task, as it would have been for Dieng too.
Thus, while the Italy international gets himself up to speed and accommodates to his fresh surroundings, Marsch should hand more opportunities to Gelhardt, as he could be superb if given further opportunities to shine.