Leeds United must pursue a January deal for Philadelphia Union left-back Kai Wagner.
CBS Sports journalist Ben Jacobs reported in August that the Whites were holding talks with the Major League Soccer club over a deal for the German, with Jesse Marsch the driving force behind that interest.
MLS insider Tom Bogert, who has worked for The Guardian and FourFourTwo, has recently spoken of the ‘expectation’ that Wagner ‘will absolutely be sold to Europe this winter’.
Leeds are interested in the 25-year-old, but they’re ‘far from the only club’ in the running. Therefore, while the deal will be ‘difficult’ to pull off, the Whites should push hard for it.
Wagner’s manager Jim Curtin regards him as the best player in his position in the MLS, and in addition to raving about the German’s quality, he has also hailed his attitude.
Curtin outlined how the 25-year-old has been able to retain absolute focus amid ‘constant noise’ around his future, something with which many other players would struggle.
He told the Philadelphia Inquirer last month (via Leeds Live): “He’s the best left back that we have in MLS, and we’re lucky to have him here in Philly.
“He continues to get better and better as the season goes. When there’s constant noise in and around, transfers and this and that, to be as professional as he’s been and just put his head down and play is not easy to do. He’s done a great job of that.”
The sporting director
Philadelphia sporting director Ernst Tanner, who brought Wagner to The City of Brotherly Love, says that his compatriot stood out as ‘special’ when he was assessing a whole host of left-back options.
He told The Athletic: “I’ve known Kai since he was a youth, and I was checking so many left fullbacks and it was always the question of what you could get and what you want to sign. It made him in a way so special, and I’m always looking out for players that can do that next stage in their development. And that’s the reason I went for Kai.”
The former team-mate
Finally, Aurelien Collin – who played alongside Wagner from 2019 until his retirement earlier this year – said he was impressed with the battling spirit that the German has shown from a young age, believing that the defender’s willingness to put himself in the firing line is curicla.
He said of the 25-year-old, via The Athletic: “He has the mentality. He’s young. He’s a fighter. He’s not scared of the contact, which is something very important in this league, and I think that’s why right now he’s adapted very well.”
It’s clear to see from these testimonies that Wagner would bring proven quality, a desire to get even better and a tremendous attitude with him to Leeds, if Marsch can lure the player to Elland Road.
From a Whites perspective, the 25-year-old would also bolster a part of the squad where the club are very light in the wake of Junior Firpo’s injury, with Leo Hjelde still quite raw and Pascal Struijk being shunted across from his customary centre-back role.
With all that in mind, Victor Orta simply must do everything within his power to convince Wagner to join the Marsch revolution in Yorkshire.
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