The season began oh so well for Leeds United. Under new manager Thomas Christiansen, the team kicked off their eighth consecutive campaign in the Championship by winning five of their opening seven matches and drawing the other two. The club didn’t taste defeat until the middle of September when Millwall inflicted a first loss on the new boss and his men.
The Whites did bounce back with a 3-2 win over Ipswich Town in their very next league game. However, a disastrous run of form has since seen them lose six of their last seven league matches, with the club dropping down as far as 10th in the table after 16 games. Having topped the table for three weeks back in September, Leeds are just three points outside of the play-off places. But, if the club’s form does not improve by Christmas, all thoughts of a challenge to finally reclaim a place in the Premier League may be over before the business end of the season is even upon us.
With Leeds struggling for any sort of form at present, we look at five realistic new signing options Christiansen may have in mind to freshen up his struggling squad with the transfer window due to reopen in just over a month’s time.
When Leeds decided to cash in on star forward Chris Wood before the closure of the August transfer window, it’s fair to say that the Elland Road faithful would’ve been expecting the club to reinvest a decent proportion of the £15 million fee received from Burnley on a top forward to replace his goals. Christiansen certainly didn’t hold back in terms of bringing in new signings with over 15 new arrivals heading through the Elland Road doors. However, questions have started being asked on the back of the club’s poor form over the quality of some of the players acquired by the new manager.
So what positions should Garry Monk’s successor be looking to strengthen in January? Well despite the decent start to life in Yorkshire of loanee forward Pierre-Michél Lasogga from Hamburg, five goals and four assists in 10 games, a top quality forward may still be top of the list for many. Recent conjecture has linked the club to moves for forgotten Leicester City forward Leonardo Ulloa and Liverpool’s injury-plagued striker Danny Ings.
Ulloa scored 23 goals in 50 games for Brighton in the Championship back in 2012/13 and 2013/14. The big Argentine centre-forward transferred to Leicester City in the summer of 2014 and after a decent return of 11 goals in his first Premier League season was part of the Foxes’ fairytale league-winning campaign under Claudio Ranieri in 2016. However, Ulloa, a physical forward who is happiest getting on the end of crosses has fallen down the pecking order at the King Power Stadium following the big-money arrivals of forwards such as Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheanacho and may well be available for a permanent or loan move in the new year.
Ings arrived at Anfield in the summer of 2015 but the former Burnley man has never really enjoyed a sustained period of fitness having seen his first season on Merseyside ended after just two months with a cruciate knee injury and his second campaign curtailed by another knee injury, this time to the opposite knee. Now back to fitness, Ings, whose total of 33 goals in his final two campaigns at Turf Moor persuaded then Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to splash the cash on him, may be receptive to a period out on loan to regain full fitness and confidence. A proven goalscorer and a clever footballer Ings could be just the man to spark Leeds’ push for promotion.
Elsewhere on the pitch, after experienced goalkeeper Robert Green’s decision to move on in the summer, two new custodians arrived in the shape of German under-20 international Felix Wiedwald and former Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, back for another spell at Elland Road. Wiedwald started life brightly between the sticks with six clean sheets in his first seven matches. However, nine goals conceded in the next four matches has seen Christiansen rotate his keepers with Lonergan stepping in. Two high profile gaffes in a 3-1 loss to Brentford last time out though has seen the position questioned by many with some suggesting an experienced stopper should be sought in January.
A move for Welsh international Danny Ward could be investigated with minutes on the pitch at Liverpool hard to come by for the former Huddersfield loanee. Alternatively, experienced former Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg is currently twiddling his thumbs at Everton, third in line for a first team place following Jordan Pickford’s summer arrival.
Further forward, Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski arrived in the summer from Swiss football and enjoyed a promising start to his first campaign in England. However, inconsistencies have crept into his game and with Kemar Roofe also struggling to force his way back into the first team, a move for fresh legs in the wide attacking areas could be an option for Christiansen. Cue a move for Chelsea winger Kenedy or Liverpool under-23 captain Harry Wilson? Both would offer an eye for goal and increased options going forward while a central defender may also be in the manager’s thoughts to partner Pontus Jansson with the club having already conceded an average of over a goal per game to date.
Having fallen outside of the promotion places, the next month or so will have a big impact on where the club will finish the campaign next May. If they can make it to January still in contention it will boost Christiansen’s chances of securing his top targets in the transfer window.
The bookies are of the belief that there is still a chance of Leeds finishing in the top six and qualifying for the play-offs at odds of 4/1. It’s going to be a big month at Elland Road and you can get all the best Championship odds and markets at https://www.sunbets.co.uk/.