A defeat to Sheffield United has jeopardised Leeds United’s hopes of securing a direct promotion grabbing a ‘top two’ Championship finish under Marcelo Bielsa. Their blistering start was hampered by the loss of form and persistent injury problems, yet the gaffer opted not to strengthen the squad significantly during the past two transfer windows.
The Whites have a host of youngsters out on loan for assured minutes at the top-level and are now set to lose the services of Caleb Ekuban according to Turkish outlet Aksam. The promising Italian was not in Bielsa’s plans after featuring 22 times the last term under Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom. He after that completed a season-long loan to Super Lig outfit Trabzonspor.
There he has found his feet scoring seven times and assisting thrice. He is now rumoured to secure a permanent switch drawing an end to his brief stint in West Yorkshire.
The 25-year-old was an exciting signing from Chievo Verona where he earned plaudits for his goal-scoring ability, pace, physicality and technical traits during his days at the youth ranks. However, he was mostly disappointing last season having found the net just twice while spearheading Leeds United’s attack.
Although he missed sitters in dying minutes that frustrated the supporters, Ekuban deserved a second chance to resurrect his career at the Elland Road. He has succeeded in overcoming hurdles and has settled in Turkey where the league offers both quality as well as the competition of highest order. Trabzonspor are currently fighting for a place in Europe, and the Leeds centre-forward is featuring week in week out mostly in a wide attacking role.
Ekuban has shown his composure while operating from the right wing as well as a second striker. His flexibility would have handed Bielsa much-needed depth in the attacking third and the player, now a regular for the claret and blue, has grown up significantly over the past few months.
Leeds have uncertainty over Kemar Roofe’s future whereas Pablo Hernandez, in his mid-thirties, would find it hard to retain his fitness and feature uninterruptedly. Bielsa has always preferred to promote the youth over splashing the cash, therefore, would have been able to mould Ekuban accordingly to fit in his plans.
The veteran Argentine has experimented with team set-ups and opted for players who are capable of featuring in multiple roles. Ekuban’s versatility could have made the task easier for the gaffer before planning his post-season objectives irrespective of the outcome of the ongoing term.