In this instalment of our transfer round up, Football Transfer Tavern have gathered three of the biggest stories to have involved Leeds United recently and have provided our thoughts on the reports published.
Eddie Nketiah or Patrick Bamford?
Leeds United have continued their push to sign Marcelo Bielsa’s regular players to new, long-term contracts at Elland Road, as Luke Ayling has joined Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas by putting pen to paper and committing their futures to the West Yorkshire outfit.
The Whites could be set for further transfer activity, as well, as reports in Spain have suggested the Championship outfit are plotting a deal with Segunda Division B side Unionistas de Salamanca.
Luke Ayling signs new, four-year contract
Leeds announced on Tuesday morning that defender Ayling has signed a new four-year deal at Elland Road, which means that the 28-year-old is contractually tied to the Championship side until the summer of 2023.
Talks between the second tier outfit and Ayling are alleged to have progressed faster than first thought (Leeds Live), leading to the announcement coming before that of Mateusz Klich, who is expected to sign on the dotted line once his agent jets in from Poland.
An agreement is said to be in place between Leeds and Klich, while Ayling signed his new contract on Monday, September 30th as he continues to build fitness with the Whites’ under-23s as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Leeds were in no rush to sign Ayling to a new deal with his previous terms not expiring until the summer of 2021, but agreeing the two-year extension early will likely have been received positively by the defender, given he has not featured this season through his ankle injury.
He was a regular member of Bielsa’s backline last term, though, making 42 outings across all competitions and scoring his first two goals for the Elland Road natives with crucial strikes against Rotherham and Millwall (TransferMarkt).
Bielsa clearly rates him highly, and Ayling will provide a lot of depth in the right-back role once fit, if not installed immediately back in the starting line-up over Stuart Dallas.
Leeds plot deal with Unionistas de Salamanca
According to Spanish publications El Norte de Castilla and Salamanca 24 Horas, Leeds have signed an agreement with Segunda Division B side Unionistas de Salamanca that will see the two outfits work closely together and see that the Whites’ academy players are sent there on loan.
The Spanish third-tier outfit’s Vice President Javier Tejedor announced the agreement at a recent summit of Salamanca members, and stated that Leeds’ under-23s players will be moving over to the Helmantico Stadium in the coming years.
Leeds already have an agreement with Spanish second-tier side Cultural Leonesa to serve as a feeder side of promising young players, so a deal with Salamanca is likely to benefit the under-23s players either struggling to establish themselves from the earlier age groups, or to help secure youngsters from abroad.
While echoing the reports in Spain, Sport Witness suggested Leeds could look to use Salamanca as a place where youth prospects can work on gaining enough experience to increase the likelihood they will be granted work permits to play in England.
That would certainly be a useful tool for Leeds have, as it would reduce the chances of the Whites missing out on emerging talents, knowing they would struggle to land work permits. However, the competitiveness of Salamanca could hinder their development at the same time, as the club founded in 2013 are still working on establishing their footprint in the lower divisions of Spanish football.
Charlton’s Lee Bowyer backs Leeds for promotion
Charlton Athletic boss Lee Bowyer has backed his former side Leeds to secure promotion into the Premier League this season, and suggested the Whites were ‘unlucky’ not to move up a division last term when their efforts came to an end in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
Bowyer had a close-up look at Leeds over the weekend when his Charlton side beat the Elland Road outfit 1-0, and suggested after the game that United may be the best side in the division but have a clear weakness.
“I think [Leeds will] go up [this season],” Bowyer said, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I think they were unlucky not to go up last year. I thought they were the best side last year – nothing’s changed.”
Bowyer then added that he and his coaching staff had worked on attacking set-pieces ahead of the Championship encounter.
“It’s something Johnnie Jackson, [Andy] Marshall and Brett Shaw work hard on,” he added. “They said before the game, if we get the delivery right we’ll score from set-pieces today.
“Leeds aren’t the biggest, neither are we. We play football, Leeds play football [but] that’s definitely a weakness of theirs, for sure.”
Set pieces have become one of the biggest threats an opponent can look to explore when they play Leeds this season, as the Whites have conceded three of their five goals from dead ball situations (WhoScored), while last term saw the ball find the Leeds net 13 times from set pieces to 34 from open play.
Just as big of a concern for Leeds is their struggles to convert chances, though, as no side have attempted more shots per game on average this season than the West Yorkshire outfit (17.7), but Bielsa’s men have only fashioned 5.2 on target and converted 1.4 of those into goals.
Had Leeds not spurned so many chances against Charlton on Saturday (19 shots, four on target, zero goals), they may have been able to leave The Valley with at least a point to show for the efforts, but instead left empty-handed after conceding from a set piece.
Leeds fans, what do you make of the recent reports involving your club? Let us know in the comments below…
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