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The one that got away: Anthony Knockaert and Leeds United

This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.

Every club can allegedly miss out on a player that may, perhaps, have been able to turn around their fortunes sooner rather than later, and Leeds United are certainly a team that can fall into that particular category.

Although the Whites have been working hard to try and get out of the Championship and came so close to doing so under Marcelo Bielsa last season, the fact is that they have been out of England’s top-tier for what will be 16 years by the time the current campaign reaches its conclusion.

That, quite frankly, has not been good enough for those at Elland Road and it does not come as a surprise for a club as big as the Yorkshire outfit – who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001.

Indeed, perhaps, a return to the Premier League could have happened sooner, if Leeds had managed to agree to a deal for a player with a rather good record in the Championship…

The one that got away – Anthony Knockaert and Leeds United

Anthony Knockaert was very close to joining Leeds United at one point in the early stages of his career.

According to a report by La Voix du Nord in September 2008, the French attacker almost joined the Whites, however it was alleged the then-League One outfit could not agree to compensation costs with Lens and Lesquin.

The teenager impressed on his trial with the Yorkshire outfit as he revealed: “I did two workouts a day plus bodybuilding. They asked me to play against Leicester. I played, I scored and I made assists.” His father later chipped in with: “The opposing coach was crazy about him” after witnessing him in action against Sheffield United.

It was a move that Knockaert, who would have been turning 17-years-old at the time, appeared to be keen on completing as he suggested everything was better at the English outfit – with facilities seemingly getting a rather big mention.

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However, he did later make the move to a Championship outfit, with Leicester City, perhaps, not seemingly forgetting about what he did to them in the trial match they had. He moved from Guingamp in 2012 for a fee thought to have been worth around £2.5m and excelled.

During his time with the Foxes, Knockaert managed to score 13 goals in his 84 appearances, with the majority of them coming from the right-hand side of the pitch (Transfermarkt).

He later moved onto Brighton and Hove Albion after a spell in Belgium with Standard Liege and continued to find the back of the net on a fairly regular basis from a wide position. He managed to provide the Seagulls with 20 goals and 16 assists in 64 appearances as he got them into the Premier League.

Marcelo Bielsa was rumoured to have looked to bring the 27-year-old to Elland Road in January, although Andy Naylor of The Argus had stated there was no truth in the speculation.

Fulham have since snapped up Knockaert on a season-long loan deal, with a view to a permanent acquisition, and he has continued to show glimpses of the quality he has at Championship level, having recorded two goals in his eight appearances so far, averaging 2.4 shots per match, two key passes and 1.8 successful dribbles (WhoScored).

Perhaps, the Frenchman is one individual that Leeds simply missed out on when they had the chance to sign him.

Leeds fans, do you think the club made a mistake when missing out on Knockaert? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!

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The one that got away: Anthony Knockaert and Leeds United
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