Thomas Christiansen has been officially announced as the next manager of Leeds United and will be officially introduced to the press next Monday. Christiansen will be making the jump from APOEL Nicosia, winners of the Cypriot First Division last year, and already the question has been brought up if he will bring any of his old players with him. While we at the Through it All Together offices were dissecting APOEL’s roster, the Yorkshire Evening Post beat us to the punch and posted an article about 5 players Christiansen could bring with him. Nevertheless, even though we were beaten, we’ve decided to push forward into silly season with our picks of APOEL players who could soon join Christiansen at Elland Road.
Let's start with the only player that will grace both of our lists, Georgios Efrem. Arsenal diehards might have a faint memory of Efrem, as he was a part of their U18 team, as well as Arsenal reserves. Having bounced around from Arsenal, Rangers FC, and Dundee FC, Efrem joined Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia in 2009 and played with the Prasini until joining APOEL Nicosia on a free in 2014. The striker/winger would be a good scheme fit for Leeds. If Christiansen decides to stick with the 4-2-3-1 that worked so well for Leeds last year, Efrem could see time at either wing or be a super sub for Chris Wood. If Christiansen decides to implement his 4-4-2 double 6 that he ran with APOEL, Efrem could pair up with Wood up top as a second striker. Efrem produced 12 goals and 9 assists across all competitions last season. He’s also represented Cyprus on 36 occasions, as well as being capped with Cyprus’ U21 and U19 teams. Having Efrem even visit the stadium would already be better and anything Jordan Botaka did for Leeds and could/should/would be a welcome move to the club.
Here’s where my list and YEP’s list start to differ. 26-year-old Facundo Bertoglio joined APOEL at the end of last year's summer transfer window on a free from Dynamo Kyiv. After scaling the ranks at Club Atlético Colón in Argentina, Los Sabaleros sold Bertoglio to Kyiv for €3.6 mill. Bertoglio then would go on a series of loans across the world starting with Brazilian club Grêmio, Évian in France, CA Tigre in Argentina, and Asteras Tripoli in Greece. Facundo has also earned one cap for Argentina, scoring two goals in a 4-0 win over Haiti in 2010. Bertoglio is a true no.10, but can also play out wide on the wing. However, it wasn’t uncommon to see Bertoglio play up top as a striker in Christiansen’s system. Again, Bertoglio would be a great system fit for Leeds, no matter what the system is. Leeds have no real no. 10 behind Pablo Hernández, and even he is a converted CAM. Bertoglio is about to enter his prime as a player, and Hernández isn’t getting any younger. With only one year left on his contract, Leeds can go after the Argentine this summer, or sign him on a pre-contract agreement in January.
Columbian Defensive midfielder Róger Cañas was on loan at APOEL last season from Kazakhstani side FC Astana. Based off that sentence alone, you might have jumped to the conclusion that Cañas has had a…interesting career playing football. A product of Independiente Medellín, El Rojo Paisa sold Cañas to Latvian (not a typo) side FC Tranzits. After a stint with Tranzits, the club sold him on to Russian club Sibir Novosibirsk. Sibir would send Cañas on loan to Polish club Jagiellonia before allowing him to join Kazakhstani club Shakhter Karagandy on a free. Two years later, Cañas joined FC Astana who, even though are also based in Kazakhstan, have the easiest club name I've had to type out. He’s been a part of the Blue and Yellows since 2014, before his loan spell with APOEL. Cañas played only 24 times across all competitions last season, only scoring and assisting once. Arguably, defensive mid is the position of least concern for Leeds, but Cañas can provide depth for the club, and he’s also not Toumani Diagouraga or Luke Murphy.
Lastly, there’s Cédric Yambéré. Like Cañas, Yambéré was on loan at APOEL last season from French side Girondins Bordeaux. Born in Bordeaux, the 26-year-old centre-back has been slowly making his way up the ladder at Bordeaux. Joining Les Girondins in 2013, Yambéré was sent on loan to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for half a season before being recalled and shipped to APOEL during the January transfer window. Of all the players I’ve listed, it’s Yambéré who I think could realistically end up at Elland Road. The centre-back position is in dire needs of reinforcing, and Christiansen’s connection with Yambéré could play a big part in getting the Central African to link up with him in England. In his short time with APOEL, Yambéré did not play much but was able to get a goal in his name. He’s also gone on and made his international debut with the Central African Republic, albeit in a 2-1 defeat to Gambia. Interestingly enough, Yambéré is comparable to our very own Pontus Jansson according to transfermarkt.com.
Bonus: Boy Waterman
I just want to be able to say that we have a goalkeeper named Boy Waterman. He’s 33 and used to play for PSV (amongst other Eredivisie clubs), but there’s no real future for the APOEL goalkeeper at Leeds.