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William Jackson

Leeds United's new priorities with Rodrigo competition, key recruitment call and striker decision

The January transfer window is fast approaching and Leeds United are expected to be active in the window as they look to make the improvements required to climb the table. Here’s a look at what will be on the club’s to-do list.

Shore up defence

The backline has undoubtedly been Leeds United’s Achilles heel this season, with the Whites shipping 26 goals in just 14 Premier League games, at an average of 1.86 goals per game. Their last two league performances have only served to underline their defensive struggles, with three goals being conceded against Bournemouth and four at Tottenham in consecutive seven-goal thrillers.

As such, it’s clear that Leeds must make stride towards improvement at the back over the next two months and while Jesse Marsch may focus his attentions on the training pitch, the hierarchy will be scouring the market. A new left-back seems like an obvious target at this stage after opting not to make a move for one in the summer window.

Read more: Points to prove at Leeds United with contracts, international spots and futures to play for

That’s no slight on Pascal Struijk, who has done a fine job in the role this season, but the Dutchman has been playing out of position, while Junior Firpo has struggled to convince in the few appearances he has made. Therefore finding a more natural option will surely be high on the Whites’ list of priorities.

A new full-back would free Struijk up to compete for a spot at centre-back, where he is most comfortable, and the Whites are thought to have the option of recalling Charlie Cresswell from his loan spell at Millwall, to potentially add to their options.

Find the right striker

Leeds may have pushed the button on a deal to sign Wilfried Gnonto in the final hours of the summer transfer window, but they failed in their attempts to land a higher prolife attacker. Charles De Ketelaere was their chief target, but he joined AC Milan, while moves for Bamba Dieng and Cody Gakpo were unsuccessful.

As such, while the club have shown a reluctance to spend money in the January window, it remains a position Leeds know they must strengthen in, with Marsch mentioning just last week that the striker issue hasn’t gone away. The form of Rodrigo, bagging nine in 13 games, seems to have taken some of the heat off the Whites, but they must push to add more depth and competition in attacking areas.

Of course, Leeds don’t want to block the pathways of Joe Gelhardt, Sonny Perkins and Mateo Joseph, but goals are what will keep Leeds in the Premier League this season.

Tie down players

Contract renewal season is almost upon us and over the next few weeks and months, Leeds will be mulling over and negotiating new deals with those who are approaching the final 18 months of their Elland Road deals. The Whites have nine players with contracts expiring at the end of 2023-24 campaign and decisions will start to be made, one way or the other, shortly.

Jack Harrison, Robin Koch, Struijk, Cody Drameh, Liam Cooper, Mateusz Klich, Diego Llorente, Stuart Dallas and Rodrigo are those having their futures discussed at Elland Road. Leeds will be keen to see most, if not all, of the above names stick around and moves will be made to prevent them entering their final year.

The futures of Luke Ayling, Adam Forshaw and Joel Robles are also up for discussion, with the trio only tied down until the end of this current campaign.

Fight off interest

The Whites parted ways with both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha in the summer window, but they held firm to prevent a third key man leaving by fending off Newcastle United’s attempts to sign Harrison, with two bids reportedly being rejected. It’s unknown whether the Magpies still hold an interest in the wide man, but Leeds’ resolve could be tested once more in January, either by Newcastle or another club.

There have been reports of interest in promising full-back Cody Drameh, while Leeds will be prepared for more of their stars being linked away as the January window edges closer. The club will be determined to keep hold of their best and most promising, though, as they look to pull away from the relegation battle in the new year.

Continue academy recruitment

Leeds haven’t always been willing to add to their first-team ranks in the January window, but, more often than not, they have made moves to secure promising young talent for their academy. Mateo Joseph arrived in January 2022, Elia Caprile and Ian Poveda were signed in 2020 and Mateusz Bogusz signed in the winter window of 2019.

Victor Orta is constantly looking to add to the club’s depth of youth talent and another academy signing or two in the new year wouldn’t be beyond the realms of imagination. Birmingham City’s George Hall is one that has already been linked with a move to Elland Road, as has 19-year-old Valencia left-back Jesus Vazquez, although the Spaniard could be seen as a first-team signing.


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