Leeds United might be in a commendable shape at this point in time but considering the likelihood of their promotion back to the Premier League or even another season in the Championship next time around, they need beef up the quality in their ranks. Garry Monk has made a vehement transformation of the approach with which the Yorkshire-based club carry its duties and it has indeed yielded substantial results for them.
One of the pivotal reasons for their resurrection has been the solidity in their backline. The Whites have conceded merely 36 goals in 37 games so far this season in the second tier of English football and finding a strong footing and resilience in the backline has been the cornerstone for their recent rise of stature. Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley have gelled together in a meticulous manner for the promotion-hopeful outfit, but there are some matters of concern as well.
Jansson and Bartley were brought on from Torino and Swansea City, respectively, and although the former might be signed by Leeds United permanently in the summer, Bartley’s situation is a tricky one. The Swans might be tempted to recall him due to the lack of assets at their disposal as far as their defence is concerned and thus, the Peacocks might have to deal with a severe blow if they lose out on availing the services of Bartley next season.
Monk has to start doing his homework beforehand and Queens Park Rangers’ out-of-favour central defender, Steven Caulker, should be a very shrewd target in the summer transfer window to replace Bartley if he is taken back to the Liberty Stadium. Caulker played under Monk when he was brought on loan by Swansea City in the 2011-12 season of the Premier League, but then, the scenarios have changed a lot.
At QPR, the 25-year-old has been serially overlooked since October 2016 and saw a move to Lokomotiv Moscow getting collapsed in January and without any shadow of a doubt, his future at the Loftus Road appears to be numbered. Caulker has mustered merely 13 appearances, in which he has scored 2 goals, created 2 chances, won 13 tackles with a success rate of 62%, and made 75 clearances, 13 blocks and 23 interceptions which imply that he still has the calibre to inject solidity into a side like Leeds United.
More than anything else, Caulker needs a vote of confidence from a manager, someone who is willing to trust him and who can get the best out of him. One can call the former Cardiff City defender a sporadic player but there is no denying the perception that he does have the quality in him. Should Monk fail to keep hold of Bartley, Caulker would be an excellent replacement and Monk is a type of manager who backs his players very well and his move to the Elland Road should be a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
Statistics Credits: Squawka.