Championship

Leeds: Whelan slams Vurnon Anita after Whites release midfielder

Leeds: Whelan slams Vurnon Anita after Whites release midfielder

EFL pundit and former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan has slammed Vurnon Anita as being a ‘huge waste of money’, after the Whites mutually agreed to terminate the Dutchman’s contract.

Anita had been on the books of the Elland Road outfit since the summer of 2017, when he moved to West Yorkshire as a free agent following his release by Newcastle United.

The 30-year-old enjoyed a sporadic maiden campaign at his new Championship side, making 22 appearances across all competitions mostly in a full-back capacity (TransferMarkt), but was immediately shunned by Marcelo Bielsa upon the Argentine’s arrival, who sent Anita to the Eredivisie on loan with Willem II.

Leeds have now taken the decision to mutually terminate the former Netherlands international’s contract a year early having failed to secure a permanent transfer for the natural midfielder, a decision Whelan feels was inevitable.

In a damning assessment of Anita’s time at Elland Road, the former Leeds striker told Football Insider: “Sad to say, but Anita has been a huge waste of money.

“I know he joined on a free but he was handed a good contract because he joined as a big-name player who’s played for Holland and over 100 times in the Premier League.

“That experience has proved to be irrelevant. Marcelo Bielsa had a look at him and knew the club had better central midfielders and better full-backs. There were better players in the youth team.

“It was obvious a season ago he wouldn’t cut it at Leeds and that’s why he was unable to find a new club this summer. If he was good enough, he would have been signed by now.”

While Whelan’s assessment of Anita’s situation is rather damning of the Dutchman’s qualities by suggesting the veteran midfielder is no better than those trying to establish themselves in youth-team football, the former Leeds striker turned EFL pundit is hardly wrong to suggest Bielsa knew he was not up to the task.

Bielsa’s game-plans are high-intensity and require a lot of direct movement from his players, with the full-backs heavily tasked with helping to create opportunities in attack, which is why the Argentine often favours forward-minded options like Ezgjan Alioski and on occasion Jamie Shackleton (TransferMarkt).

Anita, though, could only manage a 60 per cent success rate when it came to attempted tackles during his maiden season at Elland Road (WhoScored), and averaged 0.5 successful dribbles per ninety minutes, 0.3 key passes, and lost possession through unsuccessful touches 0.6 times.

Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Leeds United notifications!
To Top