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Will Leeds United look to England for central defense?

Rumors of foreign defenders abound with out any transfers while Giuseppe Bellusci is allowed to leave

Fulham v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Going into the summer transfer window, most Leeds United fans would have felt pretty good about their team. After all, the team just missed out on the playoffs by only a few points the season before, and with Chris Wood scoring a whole ton of goals, most people figured that the team would need a striker and maybe a new left back.

They also would have wanted the team to seal a permanent deal for Swansea City defender Kyle Bartley, given the impact the loanee had on the team last year, forming a formidable partnership with fellow loanee Pontus Jansson. And while Leeds did a smart bit of business to wrap up the deal with Torino for Jansson before the season was over, it appears that Swansea City is unwilling to let Bartley go back on loan to Leeds and is looking for more money than Leeds is willing, or able, to spend.

Of course, once the ownership of Radrizzani was confirmed and the new Director of Football Victor Orta was appointed, the team has gone on a spending spree. Midfielder Mateusz Klich was signed from FC Twente, winger Ezgjan Alioski was signed from FC Lugano, forwards Samuel Saiz and Caleb Ekuban were signed from CD Huesca and Chievo Verona respectively, along with winger Madger Gomes from the Liverpool Academy. Midfield was further bolstered with a move for Vurnon Anita, but he has spent a good deal of time in his career at fullback, even playing most of last season at right back for Newcastle United. Even a new goalkeeper, Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen, was brought in, a position that most Leeds fans were pretty happy with considering the performance of Rob Green last season.

The transfers seemed to address depth and the future of the club, but not in the positions of need. Besides losing centre back Kyle Bartley back to parent club Swansea, left back Charlie Taylor left in a deal to join Burnley after being linked with a move to West Bromwich Albion. Leeds were, bizarrely, linked to a couple of right backs, a position of relative strength with both Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi being first team quality. Berardi had filled in at left back with the injury and contract dispute with Taylor, but he is naturally a right back.

All of this continued with centre back Giuseppe Bellusci’s return to Leeds from relegated Serie A side Empoli, as the deal that was expected to become permanent fizzled out. He has been linked with a move away, and is likely to never play for Leeds again.

Young Irishman Paudie O’Connor had been given a chance to train with the first team, but he has returned to the Academy, where he had been projected to spend the year. Additional transfer rumors have come forward regarding depth at defense, such as a move for Everton centre back Matthew Pennington, with only Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson really being first team quality. A recent tweet from The Yorkshire Evening Post football writer Phil Hay has revealed that the club is looking in England for a defender or two.

This marks a bit of a change, as the previous transfers have all featured players from leagues such as the Spanish second division for Saiz and the Albanian First Division for Caleb Ekuban. The only domestic transfer was on a free, because Anita had been released by Newcastle United. Perhaps the backroom staff wasn’t impressed with the defenders that were available overseas or maybe Victor Orta has decided that it would be more important for defenders to have Championship or Premier League experience. Either way, new Head Coach Thomas Christiansen explained that the team wouldn’t be forced into making a move that didn’t make sense for the club. So while the fans may be getting a tad nervous about the lack of cover in defense, it appears that Victor Orta and the backroom staff are making progress in that position.