In terms of competitive spots in the side there are a few that are head and shoulders above the rest. The latest signing of Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen has enhanced the goalkeeping area http://peacockandsmiley.com/4330/leeds-complete-signing-of-werder-bremen-keeper/ but the centre of the park is brimming with players, and players who will expect to play, but who will?
Leeds first signing away from loan players Hadi Sacko and Pontus Jansson was Mateusz Klich, the Poland international. He arrived for around £1.5 million and a comes with a glowing reputation. Add that to players returning from loan, Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga and that’s another three already added to the ones who were at the club last season. Liam Bridcutt, captain, Eunan O’Kane, Ireland international, Ronaldo Vieira on a new four-year-deal and Kalvin Phillips, local lad. That’s seven players for two spots. Thomas Christiansen has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks because some of those players will need to leave the club.
Liam Bridcutt is club captain. Last season when he signed it was a huge relief. It was the return of a key player in the future of Leeds United in the eyes of the club and the fans. He was quickly names the skipper of the side and immediately got to work in a 0-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday. He then picked up an injury at home to Blackburn, the game that changed our season. After the staff failed to pick up on how serious the injury was he was sidelined until Christmas. This was our most successful spell of the season, Eunan O’Kane, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips holding their own and more. Bridcutt returned but his form never, he seemed to be struggling through games and never recovered from his early-season injury. Captain or not he needs to improve massively this season to keep others out of the side. He is experienced though, and has qualities the others don’t. Will that be enough?
The blue-eyed-boy at Leeds United currently. Returns to Leeds United after winning the Toulon Tournament in South France, amazingly only making his debut this summer for the national side’s under 20’s. The call-up came off the back of a hugely successful season at the club. Head and shoulders the Young Player Of The Year and a player who is a huge part of the future at Leeds United. The first thing Andrea Radrizzani did as the outright owner of Leeds United was to give Ronaldo Vieira a new four-year-deal. He deserves no less than that and he is probably the number one central midfielder at the club. He certainly is in my eyes and it’s a matter of who will partner him when he plays. Powerful, strong and decent on the ball. Vieira has controlled games at the age of 18 and will only get better. He’s the engine in the middle of the park.
In my opinion one of the most underrated players at Leeds United. A player who kept the ball moving throughout games but fell foul of Garry Monk’s stubbornness at the back-end of last season. After injury it was a straight shoot-out between Liam Bridcutt and Eunan O’Kane for the second midfield spot alongside Vieira and Monk chose wrong. O’Kane played in the final game of the season at Wigan and controlled the game, showing us what we had been missing. Very clever and confident on the ball but didn’t do enough going forward from the central position. With Vieira covering so much ground it’s up to his partner to go and get involved in the final third and we had nobody to do that last season. I would certainly keep O’Kane, and I think he may suit the style of play that Thomas Christiansen wants to play.
A player who had such high hopes starting the season away at Queens Park Rangers last year. He flopped hugely and hasn’t worn a Leeds United shirt since. He was one of my favourite players at the back-end of the 2015/2016 campaign under Steve Evans. He did the simple stuff well and had a strange composure on the ball. He also chipped in with a few goals looked certain to be an important player last season. His display at home to Atalanta in a pre-season friendly and then at QPR saw him frozen out, and a loan to Ipswich eventually came about. I don’t think he can improve on what we have now so I would expect him to move on this summer. There will be plenty of takers in the Championship for Dave and he should have some decent options.
One of the most debated players at Leeds United last season. Had some very good games, and some very poor games in an inconsistent season that is hard to make your mind up on. As much as it would be great to see Phillips progress at the club it’s hard to see who he can push out of the side unless he picks his game up massively. He has all the attributes but doesn’t always put them on the park. Decision making can be all over the shop at times and he may well benefit from a loan move where he can play week-in, week-out and be a key part of a team for the entire season. He is one year into a three-year-deal so he has time to find his feet, but he needs to be playing on a regular basis and that is unlikely to happen at Leeds this season.
Another player who will probably move on this summer. Murphy signed a deal with the club last summer which saw him take a significant wage drop to stay at the club. The move was hailed by fans and he captained the side at times during pre-season but that would be his all in 2016/2017 at Leeds United. He was another who Garry Monk froze out and it was Burton Albion who came calling, looking for help to guide them away from relegation trouble. That’s exactly what Murphy did and after a good end of the season he comes back knowing that there will be suitors out there looking to sign the player. Murphy may well have a chance to impress Christiansen, his range of passing is second to none in the squad but it’s the consistency and turning up in big games which let him down. An interesting summer ahead for the player, will probably look for a new challenge.
A Poland international and a player that seems to be a key part of how we could play next season. As I was saying earlier we had no players breaking from the central midfield position and that’s the sort of player we are signing in Klich. Has an eye for a goal and a pass in the final third. FC Twente fans were bitterly disappointed with the departure of a player who they saw as one of their gems. Experienced at the highest level and stolen from under the nose of Garry Monk at Middlesbrough. On paper he looks like a quality signing and with him being new and obviously had the go-ahead from Thomas Christiansen you would assume he will be a key part of the plans this season. It also means one less spot for the others at the club.