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Gruev and Kamara come to Leeds as signings continue
Thursday, 31st Aug 2023 22:48 by Tim Whelan

Yesterday Djed Spence joined us from Tottenham Hotspur, and today's signings are Ilia Gruev and Glen Kamar, while there could be yet more to come in the next 24 hours.

Gruev comes to Leeds on a permanent transfer from Bundesliga side SV Werder Bremen, for a fee described as “undisclosed” on the club’s official website. But they have been prepared to let us know he has signed a four-year contract. The 23 year-old is a defensive midfielder, and he has eight caps for his country.

You might think that part of midfield is one we’ve already got covered, but it’s about time that we had another Bulgarian in the squad. In total he made 62 appearances for Bremen, as they won promotion from Germany’s second tier in 2021/22 and then avoided relegation last season. If he enjoys exactly the same experience with Leeds in the next two years that will suit us right fine.

As well as the usual quotes about how brilliant we are, he told the official site “I play in central midfield as a holding six or can also play in the eight. I’m a very strategic player, I want to have ball and possession, intercept balls and lead the team a little bit. I know our boss wants to have the ball and dictate the game and that’s very important for my game too as that is what I want also, which is very good.”

Another 23 year-old arrived at Elland Road 24 hours earlier in the shape of Tottenham’s right back Djed Spence, though in his case it was will be for a season-long loan. Even at this early stage of his career he’s done the rounds of quite a few clubs, starting in the academy at Fulham before moving on to Middlesbrough.

He made 70 appearances for the Riverside funsters, but they still loaned him out to Nottingham Forest for the 2021/22 season as they won promotion. That inspired Spurs to sign him, but he only played six games for the north London club before he was on loan again, this time to Stade Rennais in France. And while all that was going on he found time to be capped six times for England Under-21s.

Naturally he sounded right up for it when he spoke to the official site. “It’s good to be here and I can’t wait to get started. It’s a big club, obviously there’s a good squad and there is ambition at the club to get back to the Premier League. I just want to get playing again. There’s a good manager here, I’ve heard a lot about him and way he wants to play attacking football. I think that will suit my style of football”.

And this evening we completed the signing of 27-year-old midfielder Glen Kamara from Rangers, subject to international clearance and a work permit. In the style of Ilia Gruev, he’s a permanent transfer with a four year contract and joins us for an undisclosed fee. Despite starting his career at Southend, he’s actually a Finnish international, with 52 caps.

He moved on to Arsenal’s Academy, but despite making his first-team debut in October 2015 he never really established himself at the Gunners, going back to Southend on loan before moving to nearby Colchester. But by the summer of 2017 he’d had enough of Essex and went up to Scotland to try his luck for Dundee.

18 months later Rangers were sufficiently impressed to sign him, and he made 193 appearances for the Ibrox mob, scoring 11 goals. His time at Ibrox included their first title win in a decade, which they followed up by winning the Scottish Cup and reaching the UEFA Europa League final the following season.

And that might be the last of our signings during this window, as Leeds are still pursuing a couple of options for a much-needed left back. But in the midst of all this activity a few of our younger players are moving out, at least on loan. Sonny Perkins has already gone to Oxford on a season-long loan, and today Sam Greenwood has also gone for the rest of the season, in his case to Middlesbrough.

I’m a bit surprised at that, as Greenwood adds a bit of depth to the squad, as he can operate in attack or midfield, while he is unquestionably the best set-piece taker at the club. I just hope that at least one of our new signings is a dead ball specialist, because our free kicks have been pretty dreadful so far this season.

And the club will listen to offers for a few other players. No surprise that one of them is Cody Drameh, who could well be going to Birmingham on loan, though as he’s only got one year left on his contract Leeds would much prefer a permanent transfer. He has already had two impressive loan spells in this division, but it has never worked out for him at his parent club, with rumours that his attitude is a bit of a problem.

Gyabi is another fringe player who could be on his way. He didn’t really impress when he got his first team opportunity against Shrewsbury in the league cup, and for a big man he doesn’t offer as much of a physical presence as he could. And Hejde could also depart, even though he could be a useful back in his favoured position in central defence, despite his struggles at left-back.

All in all, it’s been an excellent transfer window for Leeds, and we’ve still got 24 hours to go.

Photo: Action Images

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