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And still the major signings keep coming
Sunday, 30th Aug 2020 20:39 by Tim Whelan

Leeds managed to get two key signings over the line on Super Saturday in the positions where strengthening was most needed, but there are plenty of reports tonight saying we’re not going to stop there.

First up was Rodrigo Moreno Machado from Valencia CF, for whom Leeds broke the club record transfer fee that went back to the capture of Rio Ferdinand at the start of 2001. The 29-year-old can play as a winger or striker, though I’m guessing we’ll see more of him in the latter role, in place of Patrick Bamford.

Machado had a loan spell at Bolton early in his career, but Benfica were his first big club, scoring 27 goals in 67 league games and playing in two UEFA League finals for the Portuguese club. He then spent six seasons at Valencia, with stats of 59 goals in 220 appearances. Which doesn’t sound over-prolific, so hopefully he wasn’t playing as an out-and-out striker for at least some of that time.

A year ago Machado was spoken of as potentially worth as much as £50m, but Valencia have since run into financial difficulties which have forced them to part with him for somewhat less. He had been intending to move elsewhere in Spain, but according to Phil Hay the prospect of working under Marcello Bielsa has helped to lure him to Elland Road.

Our other problem position was in central defence, once the club had decided that we couldn’t keep on trying to keep up with Brighton’s increasingly unrealistic demands for a transfer fee to retain the services of Ben White. So 24-year-old Robin Koch has arrived from Bundesliga side SC Freiburg and signed a four-year deal.

Cue for much sniggering as fans get his name printed on their replica shirts. Kock played for SV Eintracht Trier and 1. FC Kaiserslautern early in his career, and moved to Bundesliga club SC Freiburg at the age of 21. He has made a total of 87 appearances in all competitions for Freiburg and he made a breakthrough into the German national side last season.

Having got those two signings over the line, the latest is that the next could well be Udinese midfielder Rodrigo de Paul. Sky Sports journalist Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that Leeds representatives are now in London to talk to the Udinese owner, while Phil Hay has tweeted that ‘Leeds aren’t denying interest’ in the Argentine.

The transfer fee being discussed is said to be around £31.2million, as de Paul is regarded as one of the best midfielders currently in Serie A. Since the start of the 2018/19 he has been ‘involved’ in 30 goals, and he can operate in a number of different positions. He is primarily a central midfielder, but can also play as a number 10 and out wide.

And still the Ryan Kent stories keep coming. Football Insider have reported that our opening bid was worth £8.5million, plus add-ons which would take it up towards £10m. Rangers turned that down, but Leeds are likely to go back with a separate bid, and Football Insider also claim that Kent has a release clause in his contract will obliges the Glasgow club to sell.

I would have thought we have enough options in the wide positions already, especially as we now have Machado who can play there if needs be, but Bielsa obviously feels that Kent would be a step up in quality compared to what we already have.

It’s a relief that Leeds have finally managed to get a couple of major deals over the line, now that the season is only two weeks away and we’re running out of time to get the new signings up the required level of fitness and playing the Bielsa way. And there is the added complication of the Covid regulations when some of these signings are coming from countries from which new arrivals into Britain need to self-isolate.

Another question is where all the money for these deals has come from, especially as there were suggestions a few weeks ago that our budget for new signings this summer was £45m in total, which was why we had to extend Jack Harrison’s loan for another year rather than converting it into a permanent transfer, even though that will now cost us more in the long run.

I thought by now that there might have been an announcement of major investment, either from Qatar or from the San Francisco 49ers. That obviously hasn’t happened, but are these deals a sign that they might have started to fund the club behind the scenes. If they have, then exciting times will lie ahead.


Photo: Action Images



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