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Profit Players: Leeds United’s signing of Liam Cooper has reaped the rewards

Profit Players: Leeds United’s signing of Liam Cooper has reaped the rewards - Leeds United

This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.

Leeds United defender Liam Cooper is a popular figure at Elland Road, but it is fair to say this hasn’t always been the case.

Indeed, the Scotsman initially struggled for game time when he arrived from Chesterfield for £675k, as the club went through a number of managers in quick succession (Mirror).

After making his debut in August 2014 during the 1-0 win against Middlesbrough, Cooper went on to play in 26 games under Neil Redfearn, scoring his first goal for the Whites in an emphatic 3-1 victory at home to Blackpool in the Championship.

Following an injury to Stephen Warnock, he was handed the captaincy temporarily by Redfearn, before being given the armband on a permanent basis when the Englishman was sold to Derby County. The defender played in 4 matches during Dave Hockaday’s ill-fated time in charge of the Peacocks, and made 32 appearances for Steve Evans’ side, picking up 1 assist.

However, once Uwe Rosler took over the reins, he had to battle Sol Bamba and Gaetano Berardi for a place in the starting lineup, and found himself below his teammates in the pecking order (Transfermarkt).

Despite the stiff competition, Cooper still managed to find the back of the net and register an assist in the Championship throughout the German’s short-lived tenure.

Unfortunately, Rosler’s replacement Garry Monk continued the trend, as the manager preferred the defensive pairing of Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson ahead of the Hull City academy graduate.

Matters were made even worse when he was sent off for the first time in an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Sutton United in the FA Cup.

In spite of the constant setbacks, the centre-back never gave up on his ambitions, and thankfully Thomas Christiansen handed him a fresh start along with his old armband.

Following Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at Elland Road, everything suddenly changed.

The 28-year-old has emerged as a pillar at the back, making over 60 appearances for the Argentine, bagging 4 goals and producing 1 assist overall, and making 1.4 tackles per game, averaging 1.9 interceptions, and completing a staggering average of 3.3 clearances in the English second division this season (WhoScored).

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Although the Whites narrowly missed out on promotion last year, it is clear Leeds have reaped the rewards of the fee they paid the Spireites, after a couple of teething problems at the beginning.

At the moment, Bielsa’s side sit at the top of the Championship table, boasting a healthy seven-point-gap over the playoff places, with Premier League football firmly in their sights. In recognition of his impressive displays at the back, he was handed his international debut last year.

As United climbed their way up the rankings over the past few seasons, the defender’s market value has sharply risen from £900k in September 2018 to £4.95m at the time of writing (Transfermarkt).

Cooper has constantly defied adversity, and the centre-half has emerged as a real leader not only on the pitch, but also in the dressing room. The club captain’s seasoned experience will no doubt prove to be vital as the club brace themselves for the intensity of the top flight in the future, and his valuation will surely increase as Leeds continue their ascent towards the peak of English football.

Leeds fans, do you think Liam Cooper has been an absolute steal for the club? Let us know in the comments below!

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Article title: Profit Players: Leeds United’s signing of Liam Cooper has reaped the rewards

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