Leeds United remain top of the Championship despite suffering defeat against Stoke City last weekend, and with just a few days remaining in the transfer window to strengthen the squad Victor Orta is facing a race against time to give Marcelo Bielsa what he wants.
Bielsa has made no secret of his preference to keep his squad tightly-knit and promote talented youth players to deputise for injured senior players. That attitude has served Leeds well so far but, considering how physically demanding the season has been and Bielsa’s history of faltering in the final months of the season, the club need at least one more signing to maximise their chances of clinching promotion.
The arrival of Kiko Casilla was widely regarded as a timely coup for the club, and if anyone is likely to join him at Elland Road this month it seems it will be Swansea City’s Daniel James.
Indeed, a recent report from the Daily Mirror suggests Bielsa has left Orta in charge of concluding a deal for James this month, with no further signings requested from the enigmatic Argentine.
Orta’s success in the final days of the transfer window has the potential to be season-defining in the context of Leeds’ promotion bid.
The succession of injury problems this season have been compounded by the departures of both Samu Saiz and Lewis Baker, and with the squad wearing thin the arrival of James could be priceless.
James is relatively inexperienced at this level but he has rapidly demonstrated a sound ability to perform well in the Championship, with his technical quality and willingness to work hard off the ball making him an ideal fit for Leeds.
His arrival would add greater depth in wide positions and consequently help to facilitate a permanent role for Pablo Hernandez at number ten, which is where Bielsa understandably wants him to operate.
The same report also claims that Leeds will happily walk away from the negotiating table if they believe a potential deal is not good value, but with promotion on the line it’s vital that Orta manages to strike an agreement to hand Bielsa a priceless asset during the final months of the season.
Orta has completed a handful of smart deals in the transfer market since becoming the club’s director of football, but a successful bid for James could be crucial in the context of Leeds’ bid to end their top-flight exile.
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