Heading into the final stretch of an exciting first campaign back in the Premier League, the principal objective for Leeds United was always to secure their position amongst the English elite. Another couple of wins would probably be enough as the club starts to look ahead, weighing up how to build upon solid foundations, ready to continue making progress next season.
One area planned for reinforcement is the defensive unit, both in terms of manpower available to Marcelo Bielsa, and to afford him additional tactical options. With this in mind, sources in Spain inform that Leeds United have been monitoring the situation of Domingos Duarte, the Portuguese international centre-back at Granada CF.
26-year-old Duarte has been a revelation over the last two seasons at Granada, as they continue to defy the 2021 Europa League betting odds, having now reached the quarter-finals of the competition. The consistency and reliability of his form has been a key contributing factor, which has inevitably caught the attention of bigger clubs in Spain and around Europe.
Duarte offers power and precision
The dream continues… ✍🏼⚽️ pic.twitter.com/XBaJkR3XzP
— Domingos Duarte (@domingosmduarte) February 25, 2021
Tall and powerful, standing at 6 feet 4 inches, Domingos Duarte combines an impressive physical presence with superb technical ability, which is underpinned by sound tactical and positional awareness. Often seen making perfectly timed challenges and quickly recycling possession, Duarte is also confident with the ball at his feet, able to distribute passes of any range with great accuracy.
Such a multi-faceted centre-back would be a hugely attractive addition for Bielsa, ideally suited to his coaching methodology and tactical ideas. Duarte is also capable of adapting quickly to those concepts and to English football, although Leeds would face tough negotiations to get their man.
According to current Transfermarkt estimates, Duarte has a market value of around €12 million. However, Spanish sources inform that Granada would be unwilling to let him go at that price. The existing contract of Duarte runs until June 2023, including a minimum release clause valuation of €30 million, and that will be the starting point of any haggling over price.
Possible cash plus Casilla option
🗣️ “‘Only I explain the decisions I make’
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa discusses goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, management, motivation & the visit of Chelsea in the Premier League. (Sat, KO: 12.30pm)
— BBC West Yorkshire Sport (@BBCWYS) March 11, 2021
Some hard bargaining could reduce the price-tag for Duarte, while there’s also the possibility that Leeds could offer one of their players in part-exchange. Granada will have to replace their excellent goalkeeper Rui Silva this summer, who turned down a new deal and will head to Real Betis next season.
This means that Granada are in the market for a new shot-stopper, making 34-year-old Kiko Casilla the ideal makeweight in any potential move for Duarte. Despite being first choice in the Championship last season, Casilla has only appeared once in the Premier League and once in the FA Cup this term, both of which came in January.
However, the key stumbling block in such a scenario would be contract negotiations. Casilla is currently on a deal worth £1.67 million per season at Elland Road, which lasts until 2023. This would leave him faced with a tough choice to make, whether to remain at Leeds United or join Granada as their first choice keeper, albeit on roughly half the annual salary.
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