Leeds United waved goodbye to Lewis Baker yesterday as the underwhelming loanee decided to cut his deal short and start again with Reading, presumably in an effort to establish himself as a first-team regular.
Baker’s departure will not be viewed as a huge loss in a qualitative sense. The Chelsea loanee was thoroughly disappointing on most of his outings and, despite showing rare glimpses of quality, he was simply not up to the high standard Leeds have set this season.
But, in a quantitative sense at least, his departure represents a blow, especially considering Marcelo Bielsa has also regretfully had to say goodbye to Samu Saiz this month.
The pressing need for fresh acquisitions is beginning to intensify and unsettle the Leeds supporters, but Bielsa remains unruffled and consistent with his rhetoric in relation to the transfer market.
The line that new signings represent something of a last resort has been peddled since the end of the summer window, but with Leeds down to the bare bones surely the last resort scenario has arrived.
Whether Bielsa, Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta believe that the time has come to make a move in the market remains to be seen. What is for sure, though, is that Leeds are lacking options in midfield and one of their former players could fix that notable problem.
The player in question is Ronaldo Vieira, a defensive midfielder who Leeds sold to Sampdoria in the summer for £6.2 million. Since leaving Elland Road for Serie A, Vieira has been on the fringes of the first-team squad, starting just three times in all-competitions.
Vieria divided opinions during his time at Leeds: one corner fought his case as one of the best young talents to emerge from Thorp Arch in recent years, while the other believed he was over-hyped, inconsistent and destined to fall short of expectation.
The unpredictability of young players often leads to this kind of split in opinion, but with Leeds desperately short of options in midfield even his strongest of critics would be inclined to accept that a short-team loan deal could be in the club’s best interests.
Besides, Bielsa’s influence has already transformed the careers of a handful of Leeds players, so Vieira could be a completely different prospect altogether following a potential return.
Considering Baker’s shock departure, Vieira’s lack of opportunity in Italy and the potential he showed during his time at Leeds, a January loan deal might just be a stroke of genius from the club.
Leeds United fans – thoughts on Vieira? Let us know below!