Leeds scouts were reportedly at two U19 matches and one La Liga match this week in Spain, with the scouts taking in Girona v Celta Vigo on Monday night, and then watching the U19 match between PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona on Tuesday, and then another U19 match, this time betwee Juventus v Valencia.
#lufc scouted Girona 3-2 Celta Vigo on Mon & Barca u19's win over PSV on Tues as well as Valencia U19 v Juventus on Weds— Scouts in Attendance (@scoutsattending) September 19, 2018
During the last transfer window, Leeds had signed a number of U23 prospects from Spain, including the highly regarded Kun Temenuzhkov from Barcelona. However, a number of the U23s have gone back to Spain on loan, with Oriol Rey, Adrian Balbao, Alex Machuca. and Ousama Siddiki all heading out on loan to teams in the Spanish third division.
And while it could be argued that the Spanish third division is probably better competition than the U23s in Leeds, players like Liam Kitching and Paudie O’Connor have gone to loan a bit closer to home, with O’Connor going to Blackpool and Kitching to Harrogate Town.
If Leeds are looking for more youth players to poach from Barcelona or Valencia, will those players stick around? Temenuzkhov and Hugo Diaz are both still in the system at Leeds, but the rest of them didn’t seem to be in the long-term plans of the club. Even Rey, who had impressed in the U23s, didn’t seem to live up to the hype during preseason and also headed back to Spain on loan.
If Leeds are to build up a world-class U23 system, which had been the goal, poaching players from Spain might be a good idea. However, signing and then sending players back after only one season might not be the best use of resources. That being said, even if a few turn out to be good players, the club will have spent the money wisely.
Barcelona has a world famous youth Academy, and Juventus has a number of star youth players as well, so it’s not surprising to see the scouts watch those clubs. Getting players from those academies is probably a better use of time than scouring places such as the Albanian first division for talent.
And as for the La Liga match, Leeds might be looking at a player or two from either team, but Girona is a short distance from Barcelona, so the scouts might just have figured “why not” and simply popped over to see the match while they were in town, as both Girona and Celta Vigo have impressed with their early season form in La Liga.