Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen ususally keeps things close to the vest when speaking during press conferences. It’s a running joke that if he says a player is set for a return that the player will not be in the matchday squad. And as a rule, he almost never says anything about the transfer policies, as the Director of Football, Victor Orta, makes the decisions on those. So it was interesting to hear him say that not only would be be looking forward to some new signings, but that a striker should be one of them.
A bit of a shift from TC on transfers - said that after De Bock he’d be pleased to see more signings arrive this month and would be happy if a was striker amongst them. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 12, 2018
Ever since Leeds sold Chris Wood in the summer transfer window, Leeds fans have questioned if the club had done enough to replace him. Pierre-Michel Lasogga joined from Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga on loan, and the club brought in Jay-Roy Grot from NEC and Pawel Cibicki from Malmo FF. On top of that, Leeds already had Caleb Ekuban, who joined from Chievo Verona, and already had Kemar Roofe.
Roofe has been the most prolific of all of the strikers, and Lasogga has had his moments, but the club has been missing a dominant striker that the club can count on to score 20 or so goals this season. And while Leeds have done a fantastic job of getting more scoring from the midfield and from the other players in the squad, the lack of depth up front is worrying.
You might be right. They like Hugill (far more than Marriott) but Hugill would be £8m up front.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 12, 2018
as it stands, I don't see Leeds paying that sort of fee in this window.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 12, 2018
Under Victor Orta, the club has rebuilt the youth system and found significant value in their transfer policy, finding Samu Saiz and Gjanni Alioski for less, combined, that Middlesbrough spent on Ashley Fletcher’s transfer from West Ham United. However, Leeds sit just inside the playoff spots and, given the upcoming schedule, the suspension of Saiz, and the absence of Luke Ayling due to injury, the club has to invest in a striker to try and put the club over the and into the playoffs.
Don't care about Hugill, but it's alarming everyone over €3.1m appears to be too expensive. Love our model for long-term stability, but we banked £22m on two players, have the biggest gates in the league, and are scratching around for bargains. Hit and miss all the way. #lufc https://t.co/DpKa6XZQiv— CK (@ephemeraljoy) January 12, 2018
As @ehmeraljoy put it on Twitter, going after bargains and the like are great for squad depth. It’s certainly worked out to this point. But given the insane January transfer market, the cost of English players, and the available funds, Orta and Radrizzani need to bite the bullet and shell out the cash for a striker.
It’s easy to say this if you’re not the one paying the bills, of course, and Radrizzani has said he’s already invested close to a £100 million in the club. But sometimes you have to overpay to get the best. Was Neymar “worth” his transfer release clause of €222 million? Of course not. But PSG knew that to compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich they’d have to overpay.
Now while the budget at Leeds will obviously be much smaller than the petrodollar fueled war chests at PSG and Manchester City, Leeds are the best attended club in the Championship and have made a profit in the transfer window after selling Wood to Burnley. If getting the right striker to get keep in the team in the playoff hunt and a good chance at promotion means breaking the bank, so be it. Goal scorers don’t grow on trees, and the Lasogga experiment, after a great start, hasn’t worked out.
Go big or go home. Splash the cash on a striker or miss the playoffs. Plenty of teams have been “close” for a few years before going up, but for every Brighton & Hove Albion, who came close a few times, only to go up this past year, there is a Preston North End, who were in the playoffs for a few years before dropping out of the Championship. Good chances to go up aren’t guaranteed, not in this league, and so Leeds need to seize the day.