After watching the first few weeks of Premier League fixtures, there were a lot of familiar faces scattered in colours of non-white. Lewis Cook starting for Bournemouth... and then being subbed for Max Gradel. Fabien Delph coming on for Manchester City. One time Leeds youngster James Milner was on the bench for Liverpool. Sam Byram of course playing for West Ham.
We cursed Massimo last summer at selling Cook, and rightly so. "Where would we be now if we kept our best players" was the standard outcry on Twitter.
Well, where would we be? It’s a good question. And given so many ex-whites are now playing in England’s top flight, it would be fair to assume that we could be up there.
No team hangs onto all of their players of course, but let’s just pretend for a moment that we did keep every player we had wanted to keep over the past 5 or 6 years. What would our team actually look like and where could we finish in the Premier League table?
Goalkeeper – Kasper Schmeichel
(Sold for £1 million)
After selling him to Leicester back in 2011 for £1 million quid, Kasper has gone from strength to strength. Winning promotion with the Foxes a few years ago, and then of course winning the Premier League last time out, Kasper has been an integral part of that squad and would certainly have to be considered our best keeper for the past decade.
Defence – Danny Rose, Charlie Taylor, Tom Lees and Sam Byram
(Total sold for £3.7 million)
This may look like a bit of a makeshift defence to start off with, and it is probably the weakest part of our XI, but I reckon if we had to re-train Charlie Taylor as a centre back right now then we probably could do. As the only member of this squad who still plays for Leeds (at the time of writing this), I had to include him anyway.
Starting at left back is Danny Rose, who we sold to Spurs back in 2008 FOR NOTHING! Free as a bird. What a great bit of business for Spurs as Rose is now one of the first picks on the England team sheet. Astonishing.
In at centre back, I’ve gone with Tom Lees and Charlie Taylor. A ropy centre back pairing but still, there isn’t much to choose from in the list of Leeds CB’s who are still playing. Lees was sold to Wednesday, again on a free, nearly two years ago now, and most Leeds fans weren’t too fussed by this. He never quite lived up to the heights as the rest of the academy boys, but since leaving he has gone on to be one of the best centre backs in the league and nearly won promotion last season. I know I would take Tom Lees back in a heartbeat.
Finishing off the defence is everyone’s favourite right back, Sam Byram. Sam was the only defender we got any money for when we sold him to West Ham for £3.7 million last year. He has put in some solid performances for the Hammers so far, continuing from the solid 3 years he had with Leeds.
Midfield - Robert Snodgrass, Lewis Cook , Fabien Delph , James Milner and Max Gradel
(Total sold for 21.1 million)
When you start to list the midfielders Leeds have let go over the past few years, it starts to get really sad/scary. I didn’t even have room for Johnny Howson, Aaron Lennon, or Bradley Johnson in my starting XI.
Like all good teams we would have needed two pacey wingers who weren’t afraid to take on a man and create something. Enter Snodgrass and Gradel, who when at Leeds were both deadly and have since gone on to look very comfortable in the top flight. Leeds sold them for £2.5 million and £3 million respectively, and for attacking wingers I think we were robbed here.
Sitting in the centre of the park, I have Fabien Delph and James Milner. Two very established, not only Premier League players, but also England internationals as well. Milner would provide that strong leadership quality in midfield and Fabien Delph has always had bags of skill. Leeds sold them for a combined total of £9.6 million, only a snip more than Delph alone went to City for last year.
Finally sitting in the number 10 role, just behind the striker, the beautiful Lewis Cook. This one is all too fresh in the memory as Lewis went to Bournemouth to link up with Gradel for a fee of £6 million only a few months ago. An absolute steal for Eddie Howe this one. There is no doubt in my mind that Cook will become a stable in the England set up in the years to come and could easily become the best Leeds United player we should never have sold.
Striker - Ross McCormack
(Sold for £11 million)
Leeds haven’t had an abundance of great strikers over the past 5 years. It was hard to rule out Beckford and Becchio from this list, but given where they are now playing I don’t think they would cut the mustard in a Premier League Leeds team.
Ross would though, and since he left the Whites for a staggering £11 million, he has since been sold again for £12 million. Silly money for the Championship, but it does guarantee you 20+ goals a season, and I have no doubt Ross could get at least 15+ in the top flight as well.
Total cost of Leeds United starting X1 – £35.8 million
For a measly £35 million, I think this would be a very impressive Premier League squad.
What are your thoughts? Where would this team end up in the Premier League just now? Personally, I struggle to see them finishing any lower than mid-table and with the right manager, I could even see them challenging for a Europa League spot.
Is there anyone you would not have in this XI, anyone I have missed out? Let us know in the comments below... that is, if you haven’t started crying unbearably at how depressing this all is and are currently half way out the door going to the pub to drink this away. MOT.