For Part 1, we will take a look at Leeds United’s injured and lesser-known loanees, most of whom do not have a clear pathway to playing time with the first team. Several of these players play in the Spanish third and fourth divisions, where there are very few recorded statistics and film, meaning that their evaluations largely rely on their clubs’ websites and Twitter feeds.
The first half of the season was pretty terrible for the players below, who picked up just 5 goals, 3 of which came from Caleb Ekuban in the Turkish league. Several others, like Oliver Sarkic, Adrian Balboa, and Hadi Sacko saw essentially no playing time, and desperately need to have a better second half of the season. However, if Leeds are able to achieve promotion to the Premier League, it will become much more difficult for the loanees to make an impact on the first team.
Yosuke Ideguchi - CM, Greuther Fürth
Ideguchi was sent out on a year-long loan towards the end of the summer transfer window. It took him few weeks to find his form before he was able to work his way into Greuther’s starting eleven. Unfortunately, after just four appearances, the promising 22-year-old tore his PCL in a match against Dynamo Dresden. He scored 1 goal in 210 minutes of play, completed 83% of his passes, and had 4 tackles and 3 interceptions. He was really finding his form when he was injured, which makes it all the more unfortunate. Ideguchi is one of the loanees who could certainly find playing time with the first team later on in his career.
Eunan O’Kane - CM, Luton Town
After making 32 appearances last season for the Whites, O’Kane was deemed unnecessary by Marcelo Bielsa and was loaned out to Luton Town until January. O’Kane broke his leg in his third league appearance and is out for the year.
Vurnon Anita - CM, Willem II
Anita was one of three players to be loaned out to the Eredivisie, the top level of Dutch football, along with Jay-Roy Grot and Ouasim Bouy. Like many of his fellow loanees, it took the 29-year-old several matches to break into Willem’s squad. As has been noted in several past loan round-ups, Anita was a phenomenal passer, but was unable to make a huge impact on Willem’s team elsewhere. He appeared 13 times and started 8, while appearing as a midfielder, typically on of his side’s two CDMs. He completed just 3 dribbles and failed to register a single shot in over 800 minutes of play. He was more successful in his defensive metrics, blocking 2 shots and 1 cross, intercepting 21 passes, and completing 9 tackles. So even though he did next to nothing offensively, Willem considers his defensive contributions important enough to keep him as a starter.
Hadi Sacko - RM, UD Las Palmas
Sacko has appeared in five matches off of the bench so far, and just once since the end of September. Clearly, his Leeds career will be finished when his loan ends in the upcoming summer.
Caleb Ekuban - FW, Trabzonspor
Despite not starting a single match, Caleb Ekuban has been rather impressive in his stint with Turkish club Trabzonspor, scoring 3 goals in 210 minutes as a substitute, which comes out to more than 1 goal per game. Hopefully, he will be given more chances to start and prove that he can keep up his production on a larger scale.
Alex Machuca - FW, Burgos CAM
Machuca began the year as Burgos’ top choice at attacking mid, but, amidst an erratic succession of formation changes, was soon relegated to the bench, like so many of his brethren at his parent club. Just 20 years of age, Machuca seemed to be a dangerous playmaker, and it is disappointing that this exciting prospect lost his spot with Burgos. He played in 12 matches with his Spanish club, and did not score, with assists being unavailable.
Adrián Balboa - FW, Terrassa FC
Balboa has scored just one goal, and it was an extremely lucky deflection. Playing in the Spanish 4th division, the young striker has been largely unimpressive, and playing in the fourth league of any country is probably an indication that he does not have a future with Leeds.
Oriol Rey - CM, UB Conquense
Oriol has made a few appearances with Conquense so far, but has not scored. Though he has had a quiet season so far, he is a versatile player, and can slot into the defense if needed.
Oliver Šarkić - FW, Barakaldo CF
Sarkic has made just 2 appearances so far as a substitute and will be looking to see the pitch more often in the upcoming months.