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Leeds: Noel Whelan says midfielder must be Whites’ next priority

Leeds: Noel Whelan says midfielder must be Whites’ next priority - Leeds United News

Leeds United must now turn their attention to signing a central midfielder who can compete with Mateusz Klich, according to Noel Whelan. 

The one-time striker, who played for Leeds between 1993 and 1995, was speaking to Football Insider.

The lowdown

As they look to push on from their ninth-placed finish in 2020/21 to the race for Europe next year, Leeds have already completed a pair of signings.

Firstly, they made Jack Harrison’s loan move from Manchester City permanent for a fee of £11m, and then on Tuesday they confirmed a £13m deal to sign Junior Firpo from Barcelona.

A central midfielder could be next on their agenda, with a report from Italy suggesting that Leeds could indicate whether they intend to pay Nahitan Nandez’s €36m (£30.8m) release clause this week.

Leeds shelled out £95.2m last summer ahead of their return to the Premier League, and their top-half finish earned them a £23m boost to their coffers.

The latest

Whelan says that Leeds should have learned a lesson from what he called a ‘dull stretch’ for Klich last season. He feels that better depth is required in the middle of the park and hopes that it will be at the forefront of Director of Football Victor Orta’s thinking.

The 45-year-old told Football Insider: “The next one we need is a midfield player to compete with Mateusz Klich and other players who play in that real central midfield position.

“Maybe not so much Kalvin Phillips’ position. I do feel we’ve got players, like Koch, who can come in and do that job.

“But in that central midfield player, we needed options. We needed better players to come in and help when certain players, like Klich last season, are going through a dull stretch.”

Whelan added: “I’m sure Victor Orta’s working very, very hard. He’s obviously seen the fact we need more help in that midfield, and how important it is to dictate games in that area.”

The verdict

With Leeds looking to elevate their squad, this does stand out as an area of relative weakness. Kalvin Phillips was outstanding at the base of the midfield and Stuart Dallas can thrive in front of him, but Klich is less consistent.

There were games when the Poland international looked excellent, but Leeds can’t ignore his mid-season slump.

If they’re are in a position to spend a similar amount to last summer, which isn’t guaranteed after almost a full season without gate receipts at Elland Road, then perhaps allocating a sizeable chunk of their resources to a new central midfielder, as Whelan has implored, would be a smart move.

In other news, read this update on a long-term Leeds target.  

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