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Leeds sign Llorente and there could be more to come
Thursday, 24th Sep 2020 20:54 by Tim Whelan

Today Leeds completed the signing of Spanish defender Diego Llorente, and according to Phil Hay the club are hoping to sign two more players before the transfer window shuts.

Llorente joins us from Real Sociedad, and according to the club’s official site the fee is “undisclosed” (though surely the club must know how much they paid) but the Daily Mail have described the amount as “up to £20million”. The 27-year-old has agreed a four-year deal contract.

The central defender started his career at Real Madrid and made his debut against Osasuna in June 2013. But he had to go out on loan in search of regular first team football, first to Rayo Vallecano for the whole of 2015/16 and Malaga for the following season. His 25 appearances for Malaga were enough to secure his first Spanish cap, against Bosnia in the summer of 2016.

For his first permanent transfer Llorente then kept things Real with a move to Sociedad, where he has made 88 appearances over the last three seasons, chipping in with eight goals, presumably from set pieces. He now has five Spanish caps, though he only made the bench for their Nations League games against Germany and Ukraine.

On the official site Victor Orta seemed delighted with his working in attracting Llorente to West Yorkshire. “Our target to sign players with the characteristics to suit the team in the position of a central defender requires elements like distribution accuracy, good rhythm of play and pace, which is really difficult to find.”

“With Diego we have found all of these characteristics and most importantly we managed to find availability in the market. One thing I have always detected from him since he was at Real Madrid is that he is always progressing, impressing on loan at Real Vallecano and Malaga and again at an even higher level with Real Sociedad.”

“At 27, he is arguably at the perfect performance level to play football. For a defender at this age you know your job, you are not really old or really young and for me this is the perfect for the position of centre-back. With the arrivals of both Diego and Robin Koch we are very pleased.”

And the mutual appreciation continued, with Llorente sounding delighted to have come to Elland Road. “I have a lot of energy and with my abilities I think I can help add to the team and this is the goal for me. I was happy when Leeds United got back to the Premier League and to be here is an honour and it’s a good challenge for me.”

“I talked with Pablo Hernandez [a colleague of his at Rayo Vallecano during 2015/16] and he told me about the team, the city and all of the things he said were good, so the decision for me was very easy and I am excited to be here. Marcelo Bielsa was also a key factor, for me he is the greatest manager in the world and it is an honour, I’ve come to learn as much as possible from him.”

And according to Phil Hay (writing on the The Athletic’s app) Leeds still want to sign a central midfielder and a winger before the window closes at 5pm on Monday October the 5th. But he says the club will only make these signings “if the right options come up”. Which is quite right, because we don’t want to be making panic buys or adding to the squad for the sake of it.

According to the Telegraph we could be looking at Atalanta’s Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi, as an alternative to Rodrigo De Paul, as negotiations with Udinese are continuing to make as much progress as the Brexit talks with the EU. Malinovskyi is valued at around £20million. Meanwhile, Spanish media outlet Superdeporte have recently reported that Levante’s Jose Campana might also be a Leeds target.

And one more name in the frame could Ross Barkley, at least according to Football Insider. He did of course have a loan spell at Leeds in 2012-13, inevitably finding out he was far too skilful for a Neil Warnock side. The 26-year-old has yet to live up to his early potential, and now seems to be surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea’s recent spending spree. If the Blues reported valuation of £30m is accurate then Leeds will have to weigh up whether he’s worth that amount of money.

Phil Hay also says that Bielsa likes to have plenty of wide players in his squad, and he must do if he’s still chasing wingers when we have quite a few of them at the club already. The stories about Rangers’ Ryan Kent keep coming and Liverpool’s Harry Wilson has also been mentioned, but there is nothing definite yet. Watch this space.

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