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The one that got away: Ruud van Nistelrooy 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.

Leeds United are not the only football club in the world to have missed out on some star names when they had the opportunity to sign them and certainly will not be the last team to be thinking “if only”, should they have managed to acquire them.

Indeed, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have been working hard to try and obtain promotion to the Premier League once again and there has been an argument (even by the manager) that they may lack  the clinical edge that is needed to ensure they are within a chance of escaping England’s notoriously difficult second tier.

Of course, the Elland Road outfit used to possess a squad that had some top-quality strikers in their time, with the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Tony Yeboah, Eric Cantona and Mark Viduka gracing the turf. However, Leeds could have had an impressive Dutchman spearheading the attack if they moved quicker than one of their top-flight rivals.

Yes, a certain Ruud van Nistelrooy was on the radar of then-boss David O’Leary, but Leeds missed out to Manchester United for his signature when the latter scooped him for a reported £19m transfer fee.

The Whites were chasing PSV Eindhoven teammate Mark van Bommel at the time (as per The Daily Mail), but it was also claimed the centre-forward had piqued an interest – 75 goals in 89 appearances would have made any manager take note.

Of course, Van Nistelrooy made a huge name for himself whilst playing at Old Trafford and proved to be a rather clinical striker in the English game, something that Bielsa perhaps still desires to have at Elland Road.

The former Holland international managed to bag himself a remarkable 150 goals and 21 assists in 219 appearances for the Red Devils before moving onto Real Madrid, a club whereby he was equally as impressive in the final third (Transfermarkt).

Indeed, if he and Viduka were spearheading the attack at the time, Leeds would have been lethal around the opponents’ penalty area as the Australian forward managed to notch up an impressive 68 goals in his 158 appearances for the Whites (Transfermarkt).

Although that was back in their day, if Patrick Bamford can be anywhere near as prolific as the two aforementioned individuals, then the Yorkshire outfit would be in a brilliant position and one that would not leave Bielsa replicating the frustrations he had last season with his main attacking man.

The £10m signing from Middlesbrough currently has 14 goals to his name in 34 appearances for the Elland Road club, but he often needs a number of opportunities to find the back of the net. According to WhoScored’s data, the 26-year-old averages just 1.3 shots on target per game, with 1.9 of his attempts sailing wide of the mark.

Eddie Nketiah or Patrick Bamford?





Leeds fans, disappointed the club missed out on Van Nistelrooy when they had the chance to sign him? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!

The one that got away: Ruud van Nistelrooy and Leeds United
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Article title: The one that got away: Ruud van Nistelrooy and Leeds United

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