Leeds United starting to make case for defence
After bringing in a number of forwards and attack-minded players this summer Leeds United's attention is now turning to defence.
Despite nine players signing on with the club and more than £15 million believed to have been splashed out under Andrea Radrizzani’s watch the Whites still look light on defenders with the squad flying out for training in Austria only containing two proven centre-backs and two right-backs.
But the first steps to rectify that were taken last night with the signing of Everton defender Matthew Pennington on a season-long loan.
Leeds beat off strong competition to take the player and he flew out to join the Austrian training camp.
Pennington is highly rated, but has found opportunities hard to come by in the Premier League and Everton are keen on him gaining more match experience.
At least one more defender is expected to be added with United thought to be looking at the domestic market in contrast to their previous signings from abroad.
Charlie Taylor’s move to Burnley, Kyle Bartley’s return to Swansea and the decision to loan Lewie Coyle out for the season to Fleetwood has left the squad thin on defenders.
The Whites have fielded Toumani Diagouraga and Giuseppe Bellusci in central defence in their first pre-season games, but neither looks to have a future with the club after being left out of the squad that has travelled to Austria for 10 days.
Aston Villa’s experienced Tommy Elphick, who appears to have fallen back in the pecking order following their signing of John Terry, is among the names being linked with a move to Elland Road while United are also believed to have looked at 23-year-old Bristol City left-back Joe Bryan.
Leeds previously took their tally of signings up to nine with the capture of 25-year-old Macedonia international Ezgjan Alioski.
The 25-year-old attacker arrived from Swiss outfit FC Lugano for an undisclosed fee and signed a four-year contract.
He has been chased by Leeds all summer after coming off a season when he made 36 appearances, scored 17 goals and provided 14 assists.
Last week also saw 23-year-old Caleb Ekuban sign from Italian Serie A outfit Chievo Verona for an undisclosed fee to provide what is expected to be strong competition up front for last season’s top scorer, Chris Wood, or to complement him in a possible 4-3-3 formation.
Ekuban spent last season on loan with Albanian outfit FK Partizani and he scored 17 goals in 34 games.
Another attack minded player arrived in the shape of Spaniard Samuel Sáiz with a deal believed to be worth £3 million bringing the 26-year-old from SD Huesca to become an additional playmaker at the Elland Road club.
The latest trio joined previous additions Mateusz Kilch, Felix Wiedwald, Vurnon Anita and Madger Gomes and Hadi Sacko and Pontus Jansson whose loan deals were turned into permanent moves.
With so many players coming in, it is highly likely more will be leaving the club, with United particularly top heavy in midfield. So far Taylor, Jordan Botaka, Ross Turnbull and Bellusci have all departed after their contracts were not renewed while the future at the club of goalkeepers Rob Green and Marco Silvestri has been speculated on.