The Leeds United hierarchy has every right to feel content as they look back at their efforts over the January transfer window. Leeds added to their squad with four new signings that they will hope can bolster the club’s chances of Premier League survival.
They also managed to fight off Leicester City's interest in the signature of Jack Harrison to give Jesse Marsch a host of options over the second half of the campaign. However, eyes will already be turning to summer and plans will be being put in place for the next transfer window.
Of course, plenty can change between now and then, particularly if Leeds are drawn into a dogfight at the foot of the table over the coming weeks and months. But, Leeds Live has taken a look at what the club’s list of summer window priorities might be.
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Sign a left-back
Leeds made their move to sign Max Wober in the first few days of the New Year and many believed the club had plugged their left-back hole in doing so. However, Wober has now made five appearances for the Whites and he has spent just 24 minutes playing as a left-back.
He has spent most of his time on the field at centre-back and the Austrian's impressive performances have been enough to suggest he could stay there. Pascal Struijk has done a fine job in the role since stepping in at the start of the year, but he can’t be considered a specialist left-back, while Junior Firpo’s form hasn’t been strong enough for him to stake a claim.
As such, the club will probably find themselves keeping an eye on left-back options over the second half of the season in a bid to address to unbalance within their defensive ranks.
Keep hold of Meslier
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see interest emerge in a number of Leeds’ finest talents over the summer months and the Whites may find their resolve tested with offers. Illan Meslier is one of those who has been linked away recently, with Chelsea and Manchester United said to be keeping tabs, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Frenchman has been one of Leeds’ very best so far this season, making a series of crucial saves and his performances against the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle United won’t be forgotten in a hurry. He’s still only 22 years old and the potential he possesses at his fingertips makes him an extremely valuable asset.
Leeds obviously won’t want to lose Meslier, though, and if that interest comes they’ll be doing all they can to fight it off.
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Make decisions on aging players
Leeds have worked hard on the evolution of their squad in recent transfer windows, freshening their ranks up with young, high quality talent. However, decisions will need to be made this summer on some of the stalwarts within the camp.
Luke Ayling has established himself in the side since the turn of the year, but his contract is ticking down, while the likes of Liam Cooper, Rodrigo and Stuart Dallas have deals that are up for renewal soon, too. As such, decisions must be made on their respective futures with the club, what they have left to offer and how they can make an impact moving forward.
There are tough calls to make, but summer might be the time to make them.
Get McKennie wrapped up
Weston McKennie’s move from Juventus to Leeds was completed on Monday night, with the American joining on an initial loan deal. Leeds do have an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season and unless plans change drastically, the intention seems to be to exercise that option.
Getting that deal over the line, then, may well feature at the top of Leeds’ list of priorities as the summer window approaches.
Formulate a loanee plan
The Whites have 15 players out on loan and most of those will be returning to Elland Road in the summer. As such, plans must be made about their next steps and whether they can compete for a spot in Marsch’s first-team squad.
Joe Gelhardt, Charlie Cresswell, Cody Drameh and Leo Hjelde will perhaps be the most interesting figures. The quartet will spend the rest of the season in the Championship and Leeds will be keeping a close eye on their progress with their respective clubs.
They need game time in order to continue their develop and Leeds will be keen to run the rule over them when they return to Thorp Arch before deciding their next move, be that minutes in the first-team or something else. Decisions on Gelhardt and Drameh will be of particular interest, given their frustrations and lack of game time over the first half of the campaign and the latter will be entering the final year of his deal at Elland Road.
Dan James is another who will be returning to West Yorkshire. It’s fair to assume he might be looking for a move this summer, though, after being deemed surplus to requirements back in August.
Build on the pathway
Leeds continue to recruit with an eye to the future, with Diogo Monteiro being the latest youngster to arrive at Elland Road. He’s expected to feature in the Under-21s side at first, but there is hope that he can progress into the first-team picture before too long.
Youth recruitment is a strategy the club are unlikely to alter and they’ll be scouring the continent, not just the country, for even more promising young talent. The pathway between the academy and the first-team is important to United and they’ll be recruiting in the hope that more players can eventually supplement the senior set up.
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