Leeds United have enjoyed a brilliant opening to the campaign under new manager Marcelo Bielsa and plenty of supporters are beginning to believe that this season could be their year to challenge for promotion.
With just 8 fixtures played it’s certainly too early to form definite conclusions on how the season will pan out, but the early signs are there to suggest that the club have all the necessary tools to finish inside the top-two. Bielsa has wasted no time in masterminding a mini revolution at Elland Road which has seen the club earn a strong reputation for aesthetically pleasing and free-flowing football.
One of the main criticisms of possession-based football concerns the actual use of possession: clubs have been slated for keeping possession for possession sake, but that argument cannot be fired in Bielsa’s direction after the start Leeds have enjoyed in-front of goal.
18 goals from 8 fixtures suggests that Leeds are using the ball effectively and they sit at the top of the tree as a consequence.
There’s still plenty of football to be played and a transfer window to navigate before Leeds reach the finish line, and the mid-season window could actually prove to be the difference between promotion and relegation this season.
Bielsa has expressed his desire to keep his squad small since arriving at the club, but it’s fair to say the injury problems Leeds have suffered this season may force him to adapt his strategy when the window reopens.
With a place in the Premier League potential hinging on the transfer activity of Championship clubs, there’s no doubt that Leeds could take a huge step towards the Premier League by adding just two more players in January.
And with that being said, let’s take a look at two players Andrea Radrizzani should provide for Bielsa in the January window…
Ezgjan Alioski has been in decent form for Leeds this year with 2 goals and 2 assists from 8 appearances for the club but he has a tendency to go missing at times.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Alioski’s game is his apparent ignorance of the offside rule.
The problem for Bielsa is that Stuart Dallas does not pose a huge threat to his place in the starting lineup so the introduction of a talented left-winger could push Alioski to step up a gear.
Bakary Sako is a free agent after being released by Crystal Palace and his past experience in the Championship suggests Leeds would be wise to offer him a contract in January.
Sako has scored 24 goals and provided 21 assists from 78 Championship appearances during his career, and with a record that impressive there’s no doubt he’d be a massive addition to the squad.
Injury problems have already forced Bielsa to shuffle his defensive unit and force players to start in unfamiliar positions.
Leeds have coped well with the challenges they have faced thus far, but over the course of the season they are likely to find themselves short of options once again.
Considering the sparsity of their options in central defence the signing of a centre-back should be a priority in January.
Although Juan Foyth is lacking first-team experience, he has spent more than 1-year training alongside talented attacking players in Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min to name just a few, so he should be well prepared for the challenge of Championship football.
Bielsa’s positive relationship with Mauricio Pochettino should be enough to get a vital deal over the line.
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