For Leeds United, this has been a troubling start to 2021. They have failed to win a single game and in the process, have shipped seven goals in three matches.
For Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites, it is very out of character. On top of their poor defensive record, they are yet to score this calendar year either.
Thus, director of football Victor Orta is surely thinking of ways Leeds can strengthen in the January transfer window. Eye-catching Montpellier forward Andy Delort has been linked in recent days but it’s another target in France that we want to focus on for the time being.
That happens to be Lens defender Loic Bade. The 20-year-old has been impressive in Ligue 1 this term, proving himself to be a combative centre-half, a player capable of brushing attackers aside with ease.
It’s hard to suggest that sounds like any defender already at the club, but it does bring back memories of a bearded Swede; Pontus Jansson.
Before Bielsa grew tired of him, the centre-back was an imperious figure, a man-mountain who’d win aerial duels and battles like they were going out fashion. Leeds didn’t have the best defensive tally in the Championship, but he was a big reason behind their record from corners and free-kicks.
On Jansson’s way to earning his place in the PFA Team of the Year in 2018/19, Leeds conceded just 13 goals from set-pieces over the season. That was the 12th best record in the division, but just a year later their frailties were there for all to see. Of all the goals they conceded last season, 34% of them were from set-pieces.
With that in mind, they could do with someone like Jansson or rather, they could benefit from signing Bade.
Jansson was remarkable in the air, winning 4.9 aerial duels per game during his final season in the Championship for Leeds. Now, Robin Koch might be good in the air – succeeding with 2.8 aerial duels but it doesn’t come close to their former defender or Bade.
The £5.4m-rated target has won 4.3 aerial battles per match in 2020/21, reigning supreme in the air. The 20-year-old is just an inch smaller than Jansson, but it’s evident that he doesn’t let that impact him.
With Leeds struggling so much from set-pieces, signing someone who is as good in the air as Bade would undoubtedly be a massive help. For that reason alone, Victor Orta must conclude a deal as soon as possible.
He’d undoubtedly help Leeds replace their ex-defender.