Friends, it has been a few weeks and aside from an “okay” victory against Bolton there’s been precious little to discuss. With this season inevitably written off (despite being mathematically possible for Leeds to make the playoffs, I think we can all accept that the opportunity is well and truly missed) eyes are now focussed on transfer policy and recruitment. If you’re hoping for a big statement of intent and for Leeds to wade into the market all guns blazing, you may want to take a seat.
Andrea Radrizzani has quoted on-record that the intent is to reduce the wage bill at Leeds (by offloading players to reduce the squad size) in order to obtain manoeuvrability in the market and hopefully raise the wage ceiling. Which is an odd policy to adopt considering how transfers have been conducted to date, and juxtaposed with his statement around intending to sign more “proven Championship players” for the upcoming campaign.
It’s obvious that the development squad is a key component in our future, and that assets acquired for the future will eventually be expected to step into the first team. There are a few candidates who look likely to feature in our squad next season, but if we cast aside too many considerations about “future” players and critique the squad that Andrea seeks to reduce – it poses some interesting questions. Why was Buoy signed on a 4 year deal having accomplished very little in his career to-date and needing to really prove that he’s not a lost cause?
How likely is it that Leeds will find a way to alleviate the wage overhead of players like Wiedwald, Grot, Cibicki, Anita, Sacko, Gomes or De Bock (if their first-team chances are going to be limited moving forwards). What happens to players like Ideguchi who haven’t barely played since signing and being sent out on loan? Will they get a chance? What happens when Roberts is fit? Will Ekuban be sent to the development squad?
How do you significantly reduce the squad wage bill when we don’t have a particularly large squad? Sure, there are redundant players at the club but having invested money in them, it may not be so easy to ensure that investment isn’t wasted by moving them on quickly.
How do you significantly improve this Leeds United squad if there’s only circa £8m available to invest (at least, this is the figure being banded around as rumour)? At what point do we need to accept that we’re being groomed for the inevitable sale of someone like Pontus Jansson or Samu Saiz? How can you possibly make this squad significantly better on such little money?
Remember that £8m only gets you a Pontus, a Saiz and an Ideguchi. This squad medically needs:
- A permanent goal-scorer to replace Chris Wood
- A quality left back
- 1-2 quality centre-backs
- At least 1 quality central midfielder
And if Pablo doesn’t renew his contract, then a player of his ability needs to come in too. Consider that doing the above properly will require an outlay of about £20m meaning we’re really rather short. Then consider that in order to bring in the above, we need to sell other players (to relieve the wage bill).
Ultimately, it looks like another “roll of the dice” in terms of transfer window. This squad is a long way from being competitive in the way that Wolves or even Cardiff have been this season. It’s not about leveraging barely legal arrangements with agents or necessarily spending huge sums of money (Millwall are demonstrating what tenacity can do for you). This Leeds United side is fragile, delicate and under-strength. I don’t think this coming transfer window is going to be the statement of intent that most fans are looking for. Which begs the question again, why own Leeds if you don’t have the means to take us forward?
And on it goes.