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Leeds look at Argentinian defenders in case we can’t land White
Wednesday, 29th Jul 2020 21:51 by Tim Whelan

We need to sign at least one central defender this summer, and while a permanent deal for White is still the preferred option, it’s going to be hard to prise him away from Brighton and Hove Albion. So we’re having to look at alternatives, and we’ve been linked with players from Bielsa’s native land.

White was a popular figure at Leeds in the season just gone, and it looks like he’d be open to an offer to remain at the club as we start life in the Premier League, if his recent Instagram post is anything to go by. He told his followers

"Having had some time to reflect on what has been the most incredible season I wanted to take the time to thank everyone associated with Leeds United Football Club, including the incredible supporters. No matter what happens from here I will never forget the way you took me in and treated me as one of your own from day one. These memories and experiences will be with me forever."

A fee of £20 million has been mentioned for a possible transfer, but that could rise in the face of competition for his signature from Liverpool, Manchester United, Wolves and Leicester, who reportedly have all shown an interest. But if Brighton manager Graham Potter has his way, White won’t be going anywhere.

Potter told the ever-reliable Sun “He's our player, he's got a long contract with us. He's a fantastic player. He's done brilliantly at Leeds and helped them get promotion - that's fantastic for them, fantastic for him - but he's our player and we're looking forward to working with him. He complements us really well. He's got attributes that are really, really useful and he's going to be a top player.”

But if we can’t sign White then perhaps the chance to be coached by Bielsa could attract a couple of young Argentinians to the club. The publication Doble Amarilla linked us to River Plate’s 24-year-old defender Lucas Martinez Quarta. He has made 95 appearances with River Plate, of which 64 have been in Argentina’s Superliga competition. He has also played two international friendlies for Argentina, against Chile and Mexico.

There is a release clause in his contract at €20m/£18m, but according to another Argentinian media outlet, El Instransigente, Spanish club Real Betis have now emerged as competitors for his signature. They report that Betis are likely to make an immediate payment of €12m/£10.9m (i.e. no instalments) which would interest River Plate as that would allow them to pay off their debts. It’s possible Leeds could match that offer, but we’ve yet to confirm that we will.

If we can’t get Quarta, then an alternative could be an Argentinian who is already in England, in the shape of Tottenham defender Juan Foyth, and according to the Sun we are prepared to bid £15million for his services. Foyth was brought to north London by Bielsa protégé Mauricio Pochettino, but his career has stalled since Jose Mourinho took over at Spurs.

Foyth has made 32 appearances for the Tottenham in all competitions, but none have come since December 28, when Mourinho hauled him off at half-time of their 2-2 draw at Norwich. He can play in the centre of defence or at right-back and has ten caps for Argentina. The 22-year-old said last month he didn’t want to return to his native land despite interest from Boca Juniors and has also said "Bielsa is one of the best coaches in the world and it would be nice to be coached by him."

It looks like Foyth is the most realistic of these three targets, as it’s doubtful we could afford to get into a bidding war with other clubs for either White or Quarta, unless of course we get the much-vaunted investment from QSI pretty soon. It’s already cost us a fair bit to maintain the squad we had last season, having paid £5m for Illan Meslier and £15m Helder Costa.

We still have the Augustin case to worry about, and the fact we’ve extended Jack Harrison’s loan for a year rather than signing him permanently is a sign that our transfer kitty is limited. It’s possible that Pascal Struijk will be ready to step up and play a few more first team games next season, but a central defender remains a priority, so let’s hope we can get one of these deals over the line.

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