Monday, February 6, 2023

Leeds United Confirm Their 3rd Summer Signing: Our Bundesliga Expert Gives His Verdict!

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

Leeds United have officially announced the signing of Werder Bremen goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald for an undisclosed fee. The goalkeeper has penned a new three-year deal with the Championship side.

However, in this article, we will talk about as to why the club should have neglected signing the former German youth International goalkeeper in Felix Wiedwald.

After being surplus to the requirement for Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen, who secured the signing of Jiri Pavlenka from Slavia Prague whilst extending the contract of current number one goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny to replace the 27 year old, Wiedwald held talks about his future with Bremen at the start of last week, with Leeds and Nantes being interested in the services of the former Eintracht keeper. It seems as if he has snubbed Ligue 1 outfit Nantes to move to the Championship side.

So why exactly did Bremen strip him off their strong squad? Well, the answer is simple. Felix Wiedwald has been utterly terrible with Die Grunweiss for the past couple of seasons. Ever since he moved to the Northern giants of Germany, Wiedwald has conceded a whopping number of goals, albeit the terrible Bremen defence also played a part. In the past two seasons with Bremen, Wiedwald has conceded an astonishing 114 goals in just 59 games in the Bundesliga. A rate of 1.93 goals per game, most by any Bundesliga keeper in the past two years, with at least 50 games played.

On the brighter side of things, it’s not actually Wiedwald’s fault that he conceded so many goals. In fact, he has been one of Bundesliga’s top five shot stoppers in the past couple of seasons. In the 2015-16 season, he had 2.97 saves per game ratio, 4th most in the league with at least 25 games played and last season, he also recorded a stunning 2.92 saves per game ratio, most in the league(> 25 games played). There’s no doubt Werder have one of the leakiest defence among Europe’s top five leagues and it’s normal that their goalkeepers tend to concede a lot of goals.

He was the first choice until they signed Jaroslav Drobny from fierce rivals Hamburger SV on a free transfer last summer. Drobny’s form has been much better compared to Wiedwald as he conceded just 15 goals in 10 games, before suffering training deficit at the end of the Hinrunde, which didn’t help the veteran keeper as he had to see out the rest of the season sitting on the bench. However, there’s no surprise why Bremen have chosen to extend the contract of the 37-year-old and no doubt Wiedwald’s futility has played a big role in that.

Wiedwald is actually a decent shotstopper who can be excellent in crucial situations. For example, his important save against Frankfurt in the final day of the 2015-16 season saved Bremen from the brink of relegation. For Leeds, who already have three goalkeepers up their sleeves in Rob Green, Marco Silvesteri and Bailey Peacock Farrell it’s a bit of fifty-fifth situation. Although Silvesteri is probably on the verge of leaving the Eliand Road while Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s deal will expire next summer, meaning the road is clear for Wiedwald to give a strong challenge to Rob Green for the first choice keeper for the Whites.

But one would argue that the club could have managed a better keeper than Felix Wiedwald, especially with the aging Rob Green, the Peacocks could have settled for someone who’s younger and more promising.

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