What positions are Leeds aiming for in the summer transfer window? What did Jesse Marsch say? And what do the statistics say?
What positions are Leeds aiming for?
Tim Thornton, Sky Sports News senior reporter:
The biggest question is whether or not they can hold Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips. Phillips has made it clear he wants to stay but it will depend on who steps in for him. Leeds don’t need to sell and would only do business if the deal was right for the club.
Obviously, Barcelona have been heavily linked with Raphinha. Deco is his agent and has close ties with Barcelona. It’s about whether Barcelona can afford him. The two who stay will be the key to everything.
Brenden Aaronson has already signed but is likely to play more as a reverse winger so central midfield remains a priority. Leeds have not signed a senior central midfielder since Adam Forshaw in January 2018. That’s an area where they definitely need to step up.
As a full-back, Stuart Dallas has a long-term injury. Junior Firpo could improve in his second season like many players do and Luke Ayling has done a good job for the team but more competition is needed because Dallas has been so versatile and has been able to fill a number of positions. That has priority.
Eventually they try to bring in another striker and tried to bring Eddie Nketiah back to Elland Road. The emergence of Joe Gelhardt is positive, but they remain bright there, and have been for a long time. One of the things about Marcelo Bielsa was that he liked a thin squad and it worked in a way that young players got their chance.
But having sailed close-hauled in terms of descent, I think strength at depth will be the focus. The owners have said they will support Jesse Marsch and they are already working on it after stating in January that they would wait until the summer for the right players.
What do the stats say about Leeds?
It seems obvious to criticize the Leeds defense after they have conceded second most goals against and scored second most goals expected against (xGA), but a big part of their poor campaign has been the absence of midfield maestro Kalvin Philips. Leeds endured an injury-plagued season but they missed the 26-year-old the most.
In the 30 Premier League games he has not played since the start of last season, Leeds have lost 19 – compared to just 10 in the 46 games he started. A bigger concern is that they concede almost twice as many goals (from 1.3 to 2.3 per game) when he is not in the starting XI.
What did manager Jesse Marsch say?
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch spoke at the end of May:
“We have had no communication other than to say that they (the board) have been planning behind the scenes to ensure we are in good shape in whatever direction the season might go.
“They told me at the very beginning that we were very secure financially with the pool of players, whatever the future may bring, and that we could go in a positive direction.
“Before I came here, I asked the questions what it would be like if it went in this direction, or what it would look like if it went in this direction. They knew they had a plan, they could determine what part of that plan looks like – there’s clarity already.”
What should Leeds do this summer?
Sky Sports football journalist Sam Blitz:
Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani promised fans the club would be busy in the transfer market – and there’s good reason for that.
Marcelo Bielsa preferred to field a smaller squad at Elland Road but that risk almost led to relegation last season. So don’t be surprised if the depth gets better under Jesse Marsch. The early activity of bringing RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson to the club so early in the window suggests there will be plenty of additions to come.
Should Leeds lose Raphinha this summer, a new attacking talisman will be needed, especially given star striker Patrick Bamford’s injury-prone nature.
Another key area where Leeds could strengthen is at full-back as Junior Firpo’s signing has so far not worked, while right wingers Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas are recovering from long-term fitness problems.
In an attempt to improve a defense that scored 79 goals last season, a couple of new signings from the centre-back could be crucial if Leeds look to improve next season.