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Opportunity for Brown with Saiz on his way
Friday, 14th Dec 2018 13:59 by Tim Whelan

It now seems almost certain that Samuel Saiz will be leaving us in the new year, while Izzy Brown is on his way back to the fitness level required to play for Marcello Bielsa.

It’s now clear that Saiz has asked for a transfer from Elland Road back to his native Spain, with his partner now being pregnant and wanting to live in more familiar surroundings. The likely destination is Getafe, and there are reports that he could have a medical there as early as next week.

Though technically the transfer can’t be completed until the window opens at the start of the new year, it looks highly unlikely that we will see the 27 year-old in a Leeds shirt again, if only to avoid the risk of an injury just before his departure.

Getafe is an industrial town just to the south of Madrid, and although it has a population of nearly 180,000, they have always operated in the shadow of the more glamorous Real and Athletico. Consequently they are usually to be found in the middle to lower reaches of Spain’s ‘La Liga’, with a highest place of 6th in 2009/10, though they have been in the top flight for 14 seasons out of the last 15.

Saiz came to Leeds 18 months ago as a £3m signing from second tier Huesca and still has two years remaining on his contract. At first he seemed to be the best of Orta’s many signings of the summer of 2017, the one who would “take us up again” as a key member of Thomas Christiansen’s side.

But as the nights grew longer his form dipped, along with the rest of the team, as the more physical sides in the Championship worked out how to play against us. On his day he could be inspirational, but too often he got tetchy when things went against us, most spectacularly in the infamous FA Cup tie at Newport when he picked up a 6 game ban for spitting.

This October he told the Yorkshire Post “Last season when we found out we couldn't make it to the play-offs it was a moment that was hard for me. I had less motivation because I couldn't reach the objective. It's a problem that I had and it can't happen again“.

“In every year you have good moments and bad moments but when you play at Elland Road and see all the fans supporting you, it gives you the strength to keep working and do better things. I went to other stadiums in the Premier League and these big clubs don't have the fans we have.”

At the start of the current campaign he seemed to be back to his best, being at the heart of the neat passing football played by Bielsa’s side as we again started the campaign at the top of the league. But again his form dipped with the onset of autumn, and he started to struggle to reach the fitness standards demanded by our Argentinian supremo.

Before Saturday’s game against QPR he hadn’t been in the starting line-up for six weeks, yet he played most of the game against the R’s. He was only substituted late on to allow a tactical switch, so that Halme could come on to mark Matt Smith. So he still seemed to be a key member of the squad for the rest of the season, but Leeds are now said to be resigned to losing the player.

The intention had been for Izzy Brown to compete for Saiz’s place once he had recovered from his knee injury, but it now looks like our loanee from Chelseas will have that creative midfield slot all to himself. Brown played in the under 23s victory over Burnley in midweek, but the indications are that tomorrow’s game at Bolton might have come a little too soon for him to start for the first team.

Bielsa belives that at the moment he needs to build up his physical strength a little bit more. “The sudden movements he can make, when he sprints, when he stops, the switch of direction, the short sprints, these are the elements that are needed for a player with a technique like Izzy Brown. You need to have a certain level of performance to impose your technical skills. He is working on these small details.”

So the likelihood is that Brown will have to be content with a place on the bench at the Macron, presumably in a line-up that will have Halme recalled to the side, to allow Phillips to operate in midfield alongside Forshaw. A question for the new year is whether the departure of Saiz will force Leeds to go into the transfer market to bolster the squad in January.

We will have to hope that the willingness to allow the Spaniard to depart has nothing to do with the financial difficulties that Radrizzani’s UK TV companies have recently run into, and that we will be able to re-invest any transfer fee to replenish the playing staff if need be. Much will depend on whether we pick up any more injuries over the busy holiday period, and if Brown can prove his fitness we may decide that our priorities may be to sign some new players in other positions.


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