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Leeds strongly linked with Lang, but Poveda could stay
Friday, 20th Aug 2021 15:43 by Tim Whelan

Leeds are reported to have agreed terms with Club Brugge winger Noa Lang, but will any of our existing wide men depart to make room in the squad?

Earlier in the week Marcello Bielsa hinted that Leeds might not be signing any more players before the window shuts on August 31st, yet today Belgian outlet ‘Voetbal Belgie’ have reported that “Lang now on his way to England”.

Sky Sports journalist Fabrizio Romano is also on the case, and he has previously claimed that Leeds were in talks with Lang’s agent. Those terms now seem to have been agreed, so all that is left now is for the two clubs to settle the transfer fee, though the 22 year-old’s contract is said to have a release fee of around £21m.

Lang is a Dutch Under-21 international and has only just signed permanently for Brugge this summer, though he was on loan at the Belgian club from Ajax for the whole of last season. So far he has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in 37 Brugge games, having started his career by scoring four goals in 14 senior appearances for Ajax.

A previous report from Voetbal Belgie said Milan were also interested in Lang, but at the moment it looks like Leeds is his most likely destination. But as we have so many attacking wide players in the squad already, surely this means that one of our existing wingers must be on the way out of the club, as we can’t need them all.

There has been a lot of speculation that Ian Poveda must have had some sort of fall-out with Bielsa after he didn’t even make the bench for our opening league game at Old Trafford. And nor was he included in the Under-23s squad for the Crystal Palace game last night, even though there are no reports of him being injured.

‘Football Insider’ have claimed that a Leeds source has told them that the club will listen to offers for Poveda in the final fortnight of the window, which could be for a loan deal or a permanent transfer. But this seems to have been contradicted by Bielsa’s quoted comments in the Yorkshire Post today, which seem to suggest that his omission from recent squads was merely down to the number of players who are emerging from the academy.

Bielsa said he can’t accommodate them all. "First of all, he has had a close passage through the first team and he also has the habit of competing with the 18 players who absorb the majority of the games in the Premier League. But there are also players who are also evolving and competing with him to be part of the group."

"For all these youngsters, it would be ideal for them to be in the group that competes in the Premier League, but if they are not here there comes a moment that instead of staying competing in the under-23s, they need to look for a competition that is higher than the under 23s because if not their progress will be stalled.”

"So the expectation of all of us is that they compete outside of the club for a year and that we find an evolution that invites them to bring them back into the fold. Without exception, every player that has gone out on loan, I see them every week, first of all because it is my function and secondly because you grow a bond between these players, an affection between them that these players that we have spoken about."

Which suggests that Poveda won’t be forgotten about if he does go out on loan, but he is only a year younger than Lang, so if Bielsa thought that Poveda had a long-term future as a Premier League player we might not be quite so keen to sign the young Dutchman for the same position. For me, despite Poveda’s promise he tends to try to beat too many players, and we rarely see any end product from any of his runs.

The other option of course is to dispense with Helda Costa, and a recent report in ‘The Athletic’, suggested that a number of Spanish sides might be interested, including Valencia. It might be disappointing to have to sell a player who cost us £15m just over a year ago, but his wages are reported to be £32,500 per week, so it must be tempting to get that amount off the payroll if we can recoup a good portion of his initial transfer fee.

Costa played his part in our promotion campaign, not least for his willingness to move into scoring position when we attacked down the opposite wing, and he made a promising start to last season. But his confidence seemed to go once we signed Raphinha to take his place, and in the bit part performances he’s made since he has mostly looked a shadow of his former self.

If the purchase of Lang does go through, with Harrision and Raphinha as the current choice wide men and the option of playing Dallas on the wing if need, it would be no surprise to see both Poveda and Costa heading out of the club this summer.


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