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There may be trouble ahead
Wednesday, 22nd May 2019 23:25 by Tim Whelan

Andrea Radrizzani’s warning of a “difficult” summer transfer window has sparked plenty of concern, especially as the club has yet to get Bielsa to commit to another season at Elland Road.

At the start of April Radz was talking of attracting plenty of new investment to the club if we were promoted to the Premier League, but it goes without saying that won’t happen now that we’ve missed out the cash bonanza of the Premiership TV contracts.

Radrizzani’s own funds are going to be limited after the UK part of his sport TV group has had a difficult time in the last 12 months, after failing to recoup the amount spent on rights for the Italian and Spanish leagues.

And according to the Yorkshire Post Leeds United’s loss for the season just finished is likely to exceed the £4.3m deficit reported in 2017/18 despite attracting higher crowds, as the wage bill has also increased over the same period.

All this comes a talks continue with Marcello Bielsa, and although Leeds hold an option to renew his deal for another 12 months, the club will only do so if the Argentinian is happy to remain. Radrizzani is hoping to conclude the talks in the next 48 hours, but it’s a bit concerning that it’s already taken as long as it has.

Bielsa didn’t exactly commit himself to staying in the job when he spoke to the press after the play-off defeat, and in the past the 63 year-old has walked out on clubs when he felt he wasn’t given sufficient backing. He is believed to want guarantees about his transfer budgets for the next two windows, as well as players’ contract renewals and improvements to the training ground.

Speaking at the FT Business in Football Summit, Radrizzani said “We’ll have to run a difficult summer in terms of the transfer market but we have a great academy.” And Bielsa has already said that if he stays he will give more first team appearances to Jamie Shackleton and Ryan Edmondson over the coming season.

But will we be able to hang onto the young talent that has broken through already? According to the Daily Mail, Tottenham Hotspur are ready to make a £10 million offer for Jack Clarke, with Arsenal and Crystal Palace also interested. Bournemouth have been linked with Kalvin Phillips, while Leeds are struggling to agree a contract extension with Kemar Roofe, who has only one year left on his current deal.

Slightly more unlikely is the Sun’s claim that Liverpool and Bournemouth are willing to part with £4m for Leif Davis, even though the left-back has only made a handful of appearances, and they were due to injuries to other players. But losing our best youngsters to top division clubs has been an all-too familiar pattern in the last few years, with the club needing the money from the sale of Lewis Cook, Ronaldo Vieira, etc.

Today’s statement from the Chairman can presumably scotch some of the more outlandish stories in the press about possible signings, such as the £10m we might pay Crystal Palace for Andros Townsend, or that we could match the £55k a week that Dwight Gayle is currently on at Newcastle. And we can presumably forget the prospect of converting Jack Harrison’s loan deal into a permanent transfer, unless City drop the £20m they are supposedly asking for.

We might be able to scrape a few million from the sale of some of the duffers signed by Orta in the summer of 2017, with Ekuban and Cibicki still on the books even though the spent last season out on loan. And we might get up to £6m for Samu Saiz, who has been told he is not wanted back at Leeds even though Getafe have no interest in signing him after his spell at the La Liga club.

But any receipts from these players will go on budget signings. Sky Sports have suggested that one such could be Portsmouth's top scorer Jamal Lowe, who could be available for £2m as he has only one year left on his contract. He scored 17 goals for Pompey in all competitions in 2018/19, but that’s not all that prolific in a side that finished 4th in the table, and as he’s already 24 you have to wonder if he’s good enough to make an impact in a higher division.

Apart from the likes of Lowe, Leeds are likely to rely on yet more loan signings from the Premier League. If Bielsa does decide to stay he could hire some players from his admirers Guardiola and Pochettino, who would trust him to develop some of their best youngsters for a season, but will this prospect be enough to persuade the Argentinian to sign on the dotted line for another tilt at promotion?

Reuters Media Express

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