With the Premier League very quickly reaching its conclusion, Leeds can begin preparing for a second season in the top-flight.
They have been a breath of fresh air this term but cannot let up in their pursuit of breaking into the division’s top half.
It would appear that Leeds’ main priority this summer is improving their defence.
Crystal Palace full-back Patrick van Aanholt has already been linked with a free transfer move but they are now pursuing another potential free agent.
According to The Daily Mail, the Whites are interested in landing Torino centre-back Nicolas N’Koulou.
The 30-year-old is out of contract in the summer and as a result, is now free to speak to foreign clubs about his future.
Consequently, Leeds are keeping tabs on his progress with the hope of potentially striking a deal in the near future.
On a free transfer, there would be little risk to this deal from Victor Orta. N’Koulou already knows Bielsa from his days with Marseille and as a result, there would surely be little adjustment time.
It’s crucial when a new signing arrives that they get up to speed with Bielsa’s training methods as quickly as possible. As the likes of Jean-Kevin Augustin will tell you, murderball is tough.
N’Koulou, however, will be used to that. The 72-cap Cameroon international has played in a number of Europe’s top five leagues and has qualities that would be ideal for the club and its manager.
That happens to be in the way he passes the ball out from the back. After Orta failed with three attempts to bring Ben White back on a permanent basis, he moved for Robin Koch and then Diego Llorente.
However, with their fitness wreaking havoc with Leeds’ defence all season, they could do with another body. Thus, N’Koulou feels like the perfect addition.
Speaking to HITC earlier this month, Emile Heskey analysed the club’s prior interest in the defender, saying: “[N’Koulou is] a Bielsa type of player; someone who, if you put him man for man, he knows he can dominate.”
Indeed, a quick look at the stats tells you he’s exactly like White.
For starters, he is brilliant at bringing the ball forward and finding a teammate. In Serie A this term, the centre-back has completed 88.7% of his passes. That’s compared to the 84.5% managed by White at Elland Road last season.
In terms of their reading of the play, they are also incredibly similar. During the 2019/20 title-winning campaign, White won 2.5 interceptions per match. N’Koulou, on the other hand, has won 2.4 interceptions per outing in Italy’s top-flight.
On that evidence, this feels like a match made in heaven.