Leeds United have to weigh up the futures of a number of players in the summer, and some of them need to be kept at the club at all costs.
Marcelo Bielsa is the main reason Leeds are a Premier League club once again but he wouldn’t have even taken the job if he didn’t think the players were up to this task.
Astute signings to compliment the players already at the club have made the Whites a mid-table outfit in the top flight for the first time since the early 2000s, and if they want to keep it that way, momentum has to be maintained.
To ensure this side goes one better next season and avoids the dreaded ‘second-season syndrome’ we’ve seen nearby at the John Smith’s Stadium and Bramall Lane, we need to both tie down key players and invest around them.
The likes of Illan Meslier, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, and Patrick Bamford could all fight for a place in top-six sides, and they need to remain at the club because of that.
So, objective number one for the summer should be to hand players of this ilk new contracts to ward off any interest from the sides above Leeds.
To do that, Leeds might have to pay these players wages closer to the standards they are setting, with Raphinha and Phillips looking like stars in the making.
That’s the opinion of Dominic Matteo who had this to say in his Yorkshire Evening Post column:
The next step [after having roped in quality players] is brokering the contracts to keep them.
That might be the hard bit, especially thinking about the season Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha and Illan Meslier have had.
It might take the kind of contracts Leeds United haven’t paid, perhaps since Mark Viduka’s days, real high-end money to tie your best players down.
Otherwise, you risk losing them and then you have to shell out millions more to replace them and rebuild, which is even more costly.
Next season presents something closer to normality in terms of club finances and it means the elite clubs might have more clout when it comes to tempting others into selling.
Once fans are back in and finances start flowing again, the vultures will be circling around players like Kalvin and Raphinha and offering stupid money.
We know these players can do it at this level and we have to try and keep them together.
We’ve got to tie them down.
Matteo is right, we need to make sure we’re covered in the transfer market and go for new arrivals rather than replacing players we’ve just sold.
The Daily Telegraph do claim that Bamford and Phillips are being lined up for new deals which is a huge bonus.
It’s just logical to get new deals prepared even if we’re planning on selling these players, because the value of them skyrockets when they’re on long-term deals.
Financially, we’re in no position to need to sell these players so getting them signed onto long-term contracts could be huge for tempting players to join us, knowing what project is afoot at Elland Road.