Caleb Ekuban was sort of a shock transfer for Leeds United this season, as he was hardly a household name for Chievo Verona fans, much less widely known to fans of Serie A. Ekuban had spent the previous season on loan at FK Partizani in the Katergoria Superiore, the Albanian Superliga, the first division in Albania.
Ekuban was brought to Leeds United during the summer transfer window after returning to Chievo from his loan spell. After Chris Wood was sold to Burnley, Ekuban was one of the striker touted by Victor Orta as being in competition to replace the Kiwi.
Ekuban had an eye-popping scoring record while on loan at FK Partizani, scoring 17 times in 34 league appearances. The question was, however, could he replicate that same form for Leeds in the Championship?
Ekuban’s performance did not live up to the hype. He got his first goal in the EFL Cup match against Port Vale after Samu Saiz had run riot over the club, but he was injured against Sunderland after Chris Wood was dropped due to his impending transfer. After being out with injury for weeks, Ekuban came back, only to break the same foot. Once again, Ekuban worked hard and came back from injury.
And then he got an extended run in the team.
Ekuban has got pace and power, but he just cannot shoot the ball. He works hard, can get past defenders, does a decent job of hold-up play, but he never seems able to put the ball into the back of the net, even seeming to put the ball into row Z from spots that appear easier to score than miss.
After scoring one goal in his only EFL Cup appearance, Ekuban appeared for Leeds 20 times in the Championship, and bagged one goal. One. That’s simply not good enough to be anywhere near starting at any Championship club, much less one that has dreams of promotion.
Final Season Grade: C-
Even with the low expectations going into the season, it would not be unreasonable to give Ekuban a barely passing grade. He’s got pace and strength, but there is a reason he’s at Leeds after coming in at a bargain price. He might be able score bags of goals in Albania, but at 24 years old, he should have put it all together by now. He’s moved past “prospect” and is moving closer to “bust.”
He works hard, but so do washing machines. The only reason he’s not gotten a lower grade is because he does work hard. Ekuban might have a future in football, but it’s not going to be at the level of the Championship.