Former Leeds United striker turned pundit Noel Whelan has lamented the club’s decision to walk away from negotiations with Liverpool and opt against signing Ryan Kent.
The Oldham-born forward was a player high on Marcelo Bielsa’s transfer shortlist in the summer, but a late change of heart saw the Argentine negate an alleged deal of up to £7m (Yorkshire Evening Post) and favour a loan pursuit of Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah.
Kent has now signed for Rangers for a reported £7.5m including add-ons (Liverpool Echo), but Whelan feels Bielsa’s decision was borderline unbelievable as the 22-year-old left-winger would have added a ‘top talent’ to the ranks at Elland Road.
“It would have been unbelievable for Leeds to have got Ryan Kent and Nketiah,” Whelan told Football Insider. “If Leeds had wanted him, they could have got him as they have money in the bank after their summer transfer activity.
“We needed a centre-forward after selling Kemar Roofe, and that was the priority. We have an abundance of wingers and, in the end, going for Nketiah was probably the right decision.
“Could we have got both? It would have been brilliant. I’ve watched a lot of Ryan Kent and he is a top talent. He’s young and is only going to get better, so Rangers have got a real player, there.
“Was it unbelievable for Bielsa to change his mind after such a huge bid? You could say that. Only time will tell and the proof is in where Leeds finish in the league.”
While Kent’s numbers in the Scottish Premiership during his loan at Ibrox last season suggest there is more potential in the Liverpool product to be unlocked – scoring and assisting six goals in 23 appearances (TransferMarkt) – Bielsa is already juggling how to introduce summer signing Helder Costa to his plans.
The on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers winger has only started games in the Carabao Cup for the West Yorkshire outfit (WhoScored) as he comes to terms with his new head coach’s tactics, supported by cameo appearances from the bench in the Championship.
Bielsa has also been left resigned to leaving Jack Clarke out of his matchday squad, as the Leeds boss evidently feels he has enough wide options in Jack Harrison, Pablo Hernandez and Costa without the academy product, while Nketiah can also play on the wings.
Adding Kent into the mix would require one of the aforementioned players to miss out, and it would take a bold decision for that to be Costa given their obligation to buy is believed to be around £15m (Leeds Live) and Harrison has the wide support of his head coach.
Thus, there may have been no room in the Elland Road ranks for Kent no matter how highly he is rated by Whelan, so the former Leeds striker’s wishes are probably unrealistic, as close to £7m would be an arguably excessive figure to spend on someone who would taste little action.
Leeds fans, would you have liked to see your club add Kent as well as Nketiah on Deadline Day? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Leeds United notifications!