Though the transfer window hasn’t yet closed, I often see the first league game of the season as the point at which I evaluate whether we’ve conducted good business or not. While there’s still time (and it looks like Roofe won’t be leaving until after our season opener against Bristol) it still seems the most poignant time to reflect on whatever business we’ve conducted – because we’ve finished pre-season, finished all the bonding, chemistry and fitness training, so this should be the squad we carry into the season proper.
And honestly? I can’t see how this is intended to be an improvement over the side that came so very close to promotion last season.
Jansson leaving is a big loss; both in terms of experience and ability. All told Leeds have sold or released around 32 players this window with minimal numbers coming in, and while many of those departing will have been academy or youth prospects, there’s been quite a few fringe players depart without any real indication of how the funds will be reinvested.
Jack Harrison has rejoined on loan, Jack Clarke has come in too (having been sold to Spurs), so neither player really represents Leeds strengthening the squad. Helder Costa is the only notable addition showing any sign of intent (joining on loan with an agreed future purchase apparently). Ben White is the only other newcomer but as a player you might label as a future prospect at only 21 years old having played a handful of games in League One last season. In terms of strengthening from a relatively successful campaign – it’s fair to see that minimal activity has been seen.
However, Leeds have sold quite a few players now. Jansson (first team regular) has been sold. Bailey Peacock-Farrell has also been moved on (as someone who started last season as first choice before Kiko Casilla joined). Samu Saiz has officially left the club, as has Sacko, Halme, O’Connor and Ekuban. All players who have featured in Leeds’ first team. The decision to move Halme on is a strange one, for me, given Leeds have always been so lacking in defensive options – a player with his potential seemed worth retaining. Especially with Jansson being moved on.
The decision to sell Roofe makes sense from a business standpoint, I guess. Anderlecht seem to be offering around £7m meanwhile Roofe’s contract is entering its final year with no progress seemingly being made between both parties to extend it. So if we face losing him for nothing next season, it’s sensible to cash-in on a depreciating asset when you can. However, it places enormous onus on Leeds to replace him because his goals were crucial last season. Bamford gets a lot of criticism and was obviously very frustrating to watch at times, but we can’t overlook his injury problems. Relying on a single miss-firing, injury-prone striker when we’re supposedly serious about achieving promotion seems to be the wrong side of the brave/stupid line.
With no senior backup to Casilla and Bamford our only properly recognised senior striker, it does seem unusually light for a side trying to finish top of the league… I don’t think we’ve done well this transfer window. Apparently Bielsa is content with the squad but he’s also suggested that he’d cheerfully accept players if they improve the squad – which we know is absolutely possible. But we’ve now encountered a really difficult part of the transfer window to need to do meaningful business.
All we can hope for is a good performance against Bristol. Though I haven’t been encouraged by our pre-season games, specifically our defending. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.