The January transfer window closed this week, with Leeds United one of the Premier League clubs getting busy with regards to incomings and outgoings.
Leeds oversaw the arrival of Max Wober, Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie to bolster their senior squad, whilst also bringing in Diogo Monteiro to pad out their U21 centre-back depth.
Mateusz Klich headed for the MLS and Joe Gelhardt was afforded a loan spell away from Leeds with Sunderland, whilst the biggest name departing was Diego Llorente, who moved to AS Roma. There were other temporary and permanent agreements for a number of young players, including a loan to Luton Town for Cody Drameh.
We reflect on what was a busy window overall for Leeds here, identifying TWO pros and TWO cons to the business they oversaw:
Pro: Depth in attack
Jesse Marsch has a good number of wide options at Leeds, including Jack Harrison, Willy Gnonto, Luis Sinisterra, Crysencio Summerville and Brenden Aaronson, yet there’s been a reliance on Rodrigo as the club’s central striker this season owing to Patrick Bamford’s injury struggles.
It meant that a new striker coming into the club was vital this winter, with the board acting to bring in Georginio Rutter in a club-record deal from Hoffenheim.
Rutter is versatile in that he can play across the frontline, yet he’s a No.9 by trade and someone to rival Rodrigo for a starting berth in the side.
Coincidently, Bamford is now fit and has registered five goal involvements across four games in all competitions since Rutter’s name emerged on the radar, meaning Marsch now has the depth of three fit senior strikers.
Con: Lack of natural left-backs
Max Wober was seen as Leeds’ solution to their left-back issues, despite he fact that the 24-year-old arrived at Elland Road as more of a centre-back that can play as a full-back, similar to Pascal Struijk.
That was something that supporters accepted at the time, yet Wober has impressed as a centre-back since signing and looks like he might be best off left in the heart of defence, leaving Leeds with the same headache they had at left-back.
Struijk has continued deputising there ahead of Junior Firpo in the Premier League, whilst the latter – a natural fit at left-back – has been offered minutes in the cup.
As the window closes, Leeds have just one recognised left-back at the club and a headache about the position long-term.
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Pro: Midfield evolution
Once a left-sided defender and forward arrived, Leeds had ticked two key boxes in the window, with many happy with Wober and Rutter. Another positive move was offloading Llorente and securing a potential eight-figure fee for his service in the summer.
However, the icing on the cake was a deal for Weston McKennie at Juventus, bringing the USMNT midfielder to Elland Road on his own loan-to-buy deal.
The 24-year-old replaces Mateusz Klich in Leeds’ squad, offering Marsch a younger fit for the advanced eight role in his midfield; someone to pick up the ball in advanced areas between the lines and make things happen.
This is a natural evolution within Leeds’ squad in terms of age, whilst McKennie has a very strong reputation, having featured in the Champions League and World Cup in his career already.
Without doubt, it was a positive move to see him in a Leeds shirt.
Con: Jack Harrison in limbo
Jack Harrison’s future was fiercely speculated late in the transfer window, with David Ornstein at The Athletic claiming that Leicester City made a £20m bid to sign the 26-year-old, whose situation was totally unclear right up until Tuesday’s 11pm deadline.
Leeds, in the end, didn’t cash-in on Harrison and now have to try and tie the winger down to a new contract in the months building up to the summer transfer window.
Harrison has only 18 months left on his deal at Leeds and the window to maximise his value has now passed without a further agreement.
The issue is Leeds offering Harrison what he wants with all those aforementioned wide options available in this current squad, all of whom are younger alternatives with longer contracts.
If the situation isn’t resolved, Leeds are open to low offers in the next two transfer windows for a player they could’ve just landed £20m+ for.