This is starting to be a strange off-season for Leeds United. After a disappointing finish to the season, Leeds set off on an ill-convinced post-season tour of Myanmar to a lot of criticism. Following their return to the UK, rumours of the status of head coach Paul Heckingbottom followed until he was finally sacked on Friday 1 June. Now Leeds have been linked to a possible new manager nicknamed “El Loco” and a host of higher-profile targets than we’re all used to seeing.
First, Leeds were linked with a possible move for Abel Hernandez, the Hull City striker who will be out of contract at the end of June. Now it appears that Leeds have been linked to another high-profile Championship player, Derby County’s Matej Vydra.
Derby are willing to sell Vydra this summer, for a big fee. Leeds still very keen on Hernandez but have been looking at alternatives. In terms of funding, no suggestion they could do both him and Vydra. Would be one or the other.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) June 10, 2018
Leeds would be willing to swap left back Tom Pearce in a player plus cash deal for Derby forward Matěj Vydra. Derby want £8 million as well as Pearce. [@TheSun] #LUFC— LUFC HQ (@LUFC_HQ1) June 10, 2018
Vydra is a proven goal-scorer at the Championship level, as he banged in 22 goals in all appearances for Derby County last season. And with Derby looking to do some reloading of their own this summer, after missing out on the playoffs yet another time, they could be persuaded to sell Vydra on for a good fee.
Very proud photo for #lufc academy pic.twitter.com/VSKgla7cF6— Lufcyouth (@leedsutdacademy) June 9, 2018
The original report, however, had a worrying detail in it. It claims that Derby would be interested in seeing Tom Pearce, who just got done playing in the Toulon Tournament for England, going the other direction.
This part of the story makes no sense whatsoever. Leeds literally just signed Pearce to a new contract, and selling him on when the left-back position was a total disaster last season for the club is sheer madness. England U21 fullbacks do not grow on trees, and after the club was unable to replace Charlie Taylor after he left for Burnley, you think someone at the club would realize it.
Selling on young talent for knock-down prices is something that Leeds used to do, and something that Andrea Radrizzani has promised he wouldn’t do. Of course, while the club might have gone too far in the other direction and signed too many players to bad contracts, at least the club hasn’t sold any young, promising players lately.
The picture with Lewis Cook alongside Pearce and Ronaldo Vieira shows exactly why it would be a disaster to sell the 20 year-old fullback to Derby. With all of the crazy transfer fees being tossed around, remember that Cook was sold to AFC Bournemouth for £6 million, well below market price. What would be worth more to Leeds right now, the £6 million or Cook?
Keeping players like Pearce will ensure the long-term health of the club as it will prevent the club from wasting money on transfer fees on dodgy players instead of keeping the youth players that are already coming up through the system.
Buying Vydra would be a huge improvement up front, but not if it means having to send Pearce the other direction. There are plenty of strikers out there, or just make the deal without Pearce. It’s really that simple. Pearce might be worth a few million now, but he should be worth so much more later, and keeping the young players together will be worth more in the long run, as if Leeds had kept all of their talented young players at the club over the years, Leeds wouldn’t still be in the Championship.