Now that the transfer window has closed, we’ve been revisiting the positions on the field with some of the more recent acquisitions and departures. We’ve profiled the goalkeepers, strikers, central midfielders, and defence, so now it’s time for the wingers and attacking midfielders.
One of the more active areas during the transfer window was the attacking positions, with a number of new options added such as Gjanni Alioski, Samu Saiz, and former Liverpool Academy player Madger Gomes. The club also made the loan for Hadi Sacko from Sporting Lisbon permanent and retained the services of Stuart Dallas, signing him to a new deal, fending off interest from Norwich City.
Samu Sáiz hat-trick last night against #PortVale in the @Carabao_Cup This lad looks great. https://t.co/sux1hFiJWs— Martim Ferreira (@MartimFerreira7) August 10, 2017
The two biggest new signings of the transfer window have been Alioski and Saiz after their breakout performances this season. Alioski has been a vital cog in the attacking play from the right, cutting in and putting shots on net with his stronger left-foot. Saiz made his case for a starting spot by scoring a remarkable hat-trick against Port Vale in the League Cup after being left out of the matchday 18 against Bolton Wanderers, forcing Pablo Hernandez to start on the wing instead of his usual attacking midfield position.
So where does that leave the wingers after the deadline?
After the sale of Chris Wood to Burnley, the club went out and bought three possible replacements in Jay-Roy Grot, Pierre-Michel Lasogga, and Paweł Cibicki, along with internal “candidates” Kemar Roofe and Caleb Ekuban. And while Ekuban is currently injured, due to his performances at striker Kemar Roofe has the inside track to make the switch to striker after being used as a winger last year after his transfer from Oxford United.
However, even though both Grot and Cibicki have been brought in to challenge for playing time at the striker position, both of them have played on the wing in the past for their clubs, with Grot even looking comfortable with the ball at his feet against Nottingham Forest. Both of them should feature on the wing in at least Cup matches or as substitutes during the Championship campaign.
Plus this occasionally too https://t.co/wdzMuJ5fol— simon dawson (@simondawson19) August 30, 2017
Christiansen is now spoilt for choice on the wing and at the number 10, with a number of options available for him at each position. Samu Saiz and Pablo Hernandez, both comfortable number 10s, have proven they can play together, with Hernandez taking up a position on the left wing. Alioski has pretty much cemented his place at right wing, as he looks much more comfortable on the right and cutting after looking a little unsure on the left against Bolton. If nothing else, his goal against Forest should warrant his selection until someone else does better.
Behind those two, who appear to be first choice, Stuart Dallas is a valuable super-sub on the left wing. Sacko hasn’t appeared at all since the second match of the season at right wing, perhaps because of injury, perhaps because his performances had been poor. Madger Gomes appeared in both Cup matches, starting on the wing against Newport County. Gomes has also played some at left-back this season, including in the last match for the U23s against Colchester United and as a substitute during the match against Port Vale and in preseason.
While juggling playing time will be a challenge along with keeping everyone at the club happy, this is a good position to be in for Thomas Christiansen. The Championship is a long, hard season and with two Cup competitions, the fixtures will start to pile up and injuries will occur. In years past, Leeds has suffered greatly when the first choice player was unable to go, but it now appears that there will be competition and cover at everyone position on the pitch.