Jack Harrison was a key reason why Leeds United opted to sign Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah on loan over a permanent deal for Ryan Kent, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Kent, now of Rangers after signing a four-year contract at Ibrox in a deal worth a reported £7.5million including add-ons (Liverpool Echo), had been a player high on Marcelo Bielsa’s transfer shortlist throughout the summer window, having impressed the Argentine head coach with his efforts in the Scottish Premiership while on loan at Steven Gerrard’s side last season.
The Oldham-born forward featured in 23 SPFL fixtures during his temporary spell with the Gers, in which he scored and assisted six goals, and helped to create a further three in the SFA Cup (TransferMarkt).
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was reticent to sanctioning a further loan transfer for the sought-after 22-year-old, though, and was only interested in listening to permanent offers (Liverpool Echo) should the Reds part ways with the product of their academy.
Leeds are claimed by the Yorkshire Evening Post to have presented a bid worth £4million rising to £7million through add-ons accepted – just shy of what Rangers ultimately agreed to pay – but had a sudden change of heart due to the efforts of Harrison once the Championship campaign commenced.
Bielsa has huge faith in Harrison, and the Manchester City-owned wide-man’s consistent presence on the wing, his pace and his goal against Bristol City left Leeds thinking twice if another wide option would be needed, having already acquired Helder Costa and a return on loan for Jack Clarke.
A striker was seen as a necessity with the funds available, though, and the West Yorkshire side completed a late swoop to obtain the services of long-term target Nketiah from under the nose of Bristol City, having scouted the Arsenal product throughout the past year.
Nketiah has already started to repay the decision taken by Leeds with goals for his temporary side in the Carabao Cup and Championship, including the winning strike at home to Brentford in the league and the strike which inspired the Whites’ comeback during regulation time against Stoke City, as they were ultimately eliminated on penalties in the EFL Cup.
Harrison, too, has offered Bielsa with reason to be confident that his decision to back the Manchester City-owned wide-man was the right call, as the 22-year-old currently boasts the fifth-most key passes (1.6) per ninety minutes of any Leeds player per data collected by WhoScored, as well as the second-most dribbles completed (2.2) – only to Helder Costa (4.9 from 91 minutes, all as a substitute).
If Harrison, Nketiah and Costa can maintain their current output, there will likely be few suggesting Leeds should have spent up to £7million to acquire Kent without the former England U20 international enjoying a prolific term with Rangers.
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