Leeds transfer news: Rasmus Kristensen follow-up, interest in Lewis O’Brien and James Garner
Brenden Aaronson at Leeds United was the definition of deals done early, a deal upfront within a week of the end of the Premier League season. A fee of £25m was agreed in advance with RB Salzburg which sped up the transfer for when Leeds avoided relegation.
Relegation would have destroyed Aaronson’s move and more, leaving a very different summer ahead of the club, and while the speed of news about him last week owed much to the midfielder heading for a Busy period of international duty with the United States, it didn’t hurt Leeds to look active immediately. This window will measure how much the lessons of the season behind them have resonated at Elland Road.
Leeds’ transfer strategy after promotion in 2020 was essentially a two-year plan in which an initial investment before their first Premier League campaign was supposed to carry them safely through the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Leeds pledged around £100m for new signings after leaving the Championship but, in three windows since, have only signed two senior players, Dan James from Manchester United and Junior Firpo from Barcelona. The results were therefore based on two things: the core of the workforce that won the promotion and the recruitment made in the summer of 2020.
It worked from the first time Leeds finished ninth in the Premier League, 31 points clear of the bottom three, but as last season moved on and down in a final day fight to stay on its feet, it is became clear that the team and the biennial plan theory had run into difficulties. In the end, the club secured a third year of top-flight football, and with it top-flight revenue, but with a painfully thin margin that demanded more recruitment and investment in the coming window.
Maintaining Premier League status meant Aaronson was still in line to sign the No.1 as soon as the matches were over. RB Salzburg refused to commit to offers from Leeds in January, preferring not to lose him mid-season, but they were prepared to negotiate the sale of the 21-year-old once Austria’s Bundesliga title ended. Landing Aaronson is a £25million step to tackle a midfielder at Leeds who has been largely untouched for four years, but the club’s recruitment team intend to go further into the window and to emerge from the clutch of clubs that start each season thinking only of survival. .
The nature of the next three months could be influenced by interest in Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips – the firmest coming from Barcelona and Manchester City respectively – but retaining a place in the Premier League puts Leeds in a considerably stronger position to demand a fee. students. The club are evaluating possible replacements for Raphinha, preparing for the possibility that their assessment of the winger will be met, but efforts to get him out of Yorkshire have yet to gain momentum. Meanwhile, the club are quietly hoping Phillips could sign a new contract and give them another year.
Whether Phillips stays at Leeds or not, the club have their eyes on other central midfielders. They inquired about Manchester United’s James Garner in the second half of the season and Garner’s stock rose during a promotion year on loan with Nottingham Forest.
They have an existing interest in Lewis O’Brien, who is part of the Huddersfield Town side that lost to Forest in Sunday’s Championship play-off final. Leeds refused to extend to Huddersfield’s asking price for O’Brien a year ago, but they have continued to monitor him and he would suit an area of the team where Elland Road resources still appear to be. thin.
Adam Forshaw finished the season with a fractured kneecap and although he is on track to be fit for pre-season, Leeds are resigned to being without Stuart Dallas – another option in the center of midfield – until ‘at the beginning of the year.
Dallas’ fractured femur and the long absence he faces has encouraged Leeds to consider signing a new right-back. Luke Ayling is the first choice there, but Ayling underwent knee surgery two weeks ago and could be out for up to four months. Dallas is used to replacing the right side of defense when Ayling is absent but without him Leeds lack alternatives and Athleticism understands the club are tracking Rasmus Kristensen, another RB Salzburg asset.
Kristensen, 24 and a Danish international, has been at Salzburg since 2019, the same summer Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch joined the Austrian side as head coach. The pair worked together for two years and Kristensen, like Aaronson, is expected to leave Salzburg before the start of the 2022-23 term. Borussia Dortmund are keen on him and Brentford have been linked with him over the past fortnight. Kristensen, who is believed to cost around £10million, is on international duty ahead of Denmark’s Nations League games.
Leeds have spent time closely tracking a different right-back, 18-year-old Aberdeen prospect Calvin Ramsay, but he is wanted by Liverpool and Leeds know there is a high chance Ramsay will opt for Anfield. rather than Elland Road. Discussions are ongoing over whether or not to bring in a more experienced second-choice keeper to replace Illan Meslier. Leeds have youngster Kristoffer Klaesson as a back-up for Meslier, but they explored a loan deal for West Ham United’s Darren Randolph in January and are considering increasing their choice of goalkeepers.
There is an even stronger argument for bolstering their resources at centre-forward after a season in which Patrick Bamford was barely fit to play. Bamford scored 17 goals in his first Premier League season, enough to earn him his England debut, but he has started just seven times in 2021-22 and appeared three times after Christmas. Marsch and Marcelo Bielsa both tried to use James at No.9 and gave Joe Gelhardt occasional chances, but Leeds were badly compromised by the lack of a regular starter like Bamford up front.
Bamford has recovered from his most recent injury, a foot problem, and had it not been for a bout of COVID-19 he would have been in the squad for Leeds’ final game at Brentford. Gelhardt is expected to have a bigger role next season, but Leeds are tracking other centre-forwards and they were among the teams who explored the possibility of taking Eddie Nketiah amid his contract situation at Arsenal.
Nketiah spent half of the 2019-20 season on loan at Leeds from the Emirates and his future is uncertain with his contract with Arsenal due to expire this summer. The England Under-21 striker, however, is now set to sign a new five-year contract at Arsenal, excluding other clubs from the equation, but Leeds’ focus on him signals a desire to improve. their line of attack. The club’s output has risen from 62 goals scored in their first Premier League season to 42 in their second and their biggest goals have come from two wingers, Raphinha and Jack Harrison.
That wasn’t the only stat staring Leeds in the face as survival held out to 90 minutes against Brentford and one of the legacies of a torrid year was the realization that holding back in the transfer market this summer would have probably a high price. Their place in the Premier League was secured on a Sunday afternoon and Aaronson was on a plane the following Wednesday, heading to Leeds for a medical at the first opportunity, the start of a bid to create a bigger team with healthier quality levels and more resistance. to the impact of injuries. The prevailing sentiment as the dust settled in Brentford? This year of living so dangerously was more than enough.
(Top photo: Hans Peter Lottermoser/SEPA.Media/Getty Images)