Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch should sign a utility player similar to Oleksandr Zinchenko this summer, according to former Elland Road man Noel Whelan.
The Lowdown: Left-back concerns
Marsch’s side are continuing their pre-season preparations ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, with the manager afforded the luxury of having some proper time to make his influence known after being thrust into the chaos of a relegation battle last term.
The boss has had an immediate setback however and has been forced to make plans without Junior Firpo, who is expected to be sidelined for around eight weeks through injury.
Jack Harrison has even been deployed at left-back, playing there in the 2-1 victory over Brisbane Roar on Thursday before being replaced by Leif Davis at half-time, while The Athletic report a dip back into the transfer market is possible.
The Latest: Whelan wants Zinchenko-esque signing
Speaking to Football Insider, former Leeds forward and BBC pundit Whelan, who is now a club ambassador/employee, assessed the situation and claimed Leeds should sign someone of Zinchenko’s ilk, with the four-time Premier League winner an excellent left-back who is also capable in more advanced roles:
“It’s a bit like Zinchenko’s situation at Man City – that’s what Marsch is looking for. But for me, he’s better off further forward in those attacking zones.
“When it comes to defending – it’s an art, like everything. You’ve got to know how to defend one-on-one, cover round, fill the spaces. These are all skill sets you learn from a very young age. He’s not played the role very often, but if you are going to try it – now’s the time.
“I’d rather see Harrison further forward in the final third, taking on defenders. This is an area we need to look at carefully and consider our options. It may be worth seeing if Ayling can swap over to the left instead.”
The Verdict: Versatility can be priceless
The search for a striker is well documented, but a new left-back should certainly take some precedence in the coming weeks, with Harrison not looking natural in the role against Brisbane, and far more effective as a winger.
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Versatility would be an added boost, with players capable of thriving in several positions proving priceless under Marcelo Bielsa, as Stuart Dallas has shown down the years.
He is another who is absent through injury, like Firpo, which further highlights the need to snap up a left-back who can also fill in either at centre-back, central midfield or in a wide attacking role.
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