Welcome Saiz and Alioski
The summer transfer window has closed and Leeds United fans should be quite happy. The club has spent more money during this transfer window than they have for a very long time—thanks to the director of football at Elland Road, Victor Orta. And although it may be too early in the season to speculate, it looks like Samu Saiz and Ezgjan Alioski could become the best attackers in the division.
Wiedwald replaces Green and Anita as a wall
Felix Wiedwald has replaced the dependable Rob Green—a move that originally raised questions in light of Green’s brilliant form of late—but no complaints, so far. By all appearances, the German looks solid and more than comfortable at this level of football—sterner tests will prove the extent of his ability. Vurnon Anita has to be one of the best free transfers of the summer. The former Newcastle United man has been like an impenetrable wall at left-back and will even make it difficult for Gaetano Berardi to get back into the starting eleven. Anita’s energy could also carry Leeds’ midfield when/if injuries take their toll on the squad.
Pennington adds strength
Leeds have only brought in one central defender to replace Kyle Bartley—Matthew Pennington. The Everton center-half has joined the Whites on a season-long loan, a move which raised a few eyebrows. At 22, Pennington probably isn’t quite at the level Bartley was last season, but Ronald Koeman (and Everton) clearly rate him. Albeit he’s recuperating from an injury, his impressive start assures that he will strengthen an already solid defence upon his return.
Captain Cooper and a loanee
Liam Cooper’s resurgence at the back has surprised many. Cooper seems to be relishing the captain’s role at the moment, and despite some justifiable uncertainty from fans, it’s easy to see why Thomas Christiansen is more than happy with his defence. Manchester United’s Cameron Borthwick-Jackson only adds to the measure of the squad, even though the loanee may struggle to get into the Leeds set-up.
Brilliant Phillips and hopes for Klich
Like Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips is proving many doubters wrong. Phillips has been brilliant in the last two league games, and if he can remain consistent, then he’ll keep his place alongside the impressive Eunan O’Kane. Alternately, the injury that might keep O’Kane out of this weekend’s match (against Burton Albion) could give Mateusz Klich his first league start. Klich has the potential to be a pivotal player for Leeds, but the former FC Twente midfielder has yet to be featured regularly for the Whites. When he does, there’s no doubt he will make his mark.
Trust the board—at least until January
If Leeds are to threaten the automatic promotion places, it might be up to Saiz and Alioski. Orta’s new recruits have been fantastic, but it’s still too early in this grueling Championship campaign to know if they can push the team into the finals. After the sale of Chris Wood, the signings of Pawel Cibicki and Pierre Michel-Lasogga were a little underwhelming to fans, and it was frustrating to hear that the club overlooked proven Championship players, such as Nelson Oliveira. Yet, with this season’s recruits, the Leeds board should have earned the fans’ trust. The best players aren’t always the most expensive, a fact Leeds have proven already—and may prove again. Otherwise, they’ll have to try again in next January’s transfer window.
Long live Lasogga!
It will be interesting to see how Lasogga and Cibicki perform over the next few weeks. If Lasogga can rediscover the form that put him on the radar of the German National Team—which was probably part of the reason Leeds wanted the Hamburg striker—and if he can avoid injury, then the big centre-forward could be a real coup for the club.
Last season’s downfall may well have been no more than fatigue—the players simply ran out steam. To make sure that history wouldn’t repeat itself, Thomas Christiansen wanted two players for every position, and although that’s easier said than done, it’s exactly what he got. This season, Leeds is intensely strong; indeed, Christiansen now boasts one of the most impressive squads in the division.