Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Leeds United Back In The Race For This Ex-Sunderland Winger: What Should Bielsa Do Here?

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

A shambolic home defeat against ten-man Wigan has jeopardised Leeds United’s automatic promotion hopes. The fear of falling apart is looming large, and the uncertainty of playoffs might result in yet more disappointment and anguish upon the completion of the current campaign.

The Whites, meanwhile, require a significant transfer boost in the summer and should concentrate on increasing the depth of their squad to avoid the constraints they encountered this term.

According to reports from Turkish media outlet Fotomac, Leeds are set to reignite their interest in Besiktas attacker Jeremain Lens after failing to land him in January. The Dutch international was valued at around €5m in the winter transfer window as per Turkiye Gazetesi. However, the Yorkshire giants might have him for a lesser sum now due to the player’s discontent over his payment.

The Black and Whites are undergoing financial turmoil and might let their star names depart in the upcoming window to clear the wage bill. The Dutchman is arguably one of their esteemed resources who settled in Turkey after a difficult time at Sunderland. His presence on the right flank has been immense as well as influential for Besiktas over the past couple of years.

Marcelo Bielsa has utilised veteran Pablo Hernandez down the wide areas, and the Spaniard has been Leeds United’s brightest spark this season in chasing promotion. But the player is in his mid-thirties and should now be shifted in a more central role to orchestrate the flow using his majestic passing and distribution attributes along with vision, link-up play and gifted footwork. The gaffer would require more options to be deployed on the wing, therefore, should consider bringing in reinforcements before the next campaign.

Lens, 31, had years of success in Eredivisie (with AZ, NEC and PSV Eindhoven) before plying his trade in Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv. He is known for his pace, dribbling, counter-attacking threats and set-piece expertise. However, at the same time, he has struggled in front of goal in the ongoing Super Lig season. He has found the net only once in 22 league outings – a return not at all convincing enough to secure a switch to Elland Road.

Although the winger has netted more in Europe, his overall form is alarming. The manager would demand an instant impact from a player who is in his thirties and Lens has not done enough justice to his name despite showcasing moments of excellence and glimpses of his quality in the attacking third.

Bielsa, therefore, should switch his sights elsewhere for reinforcements and recruit someone who would inject youthfulness, return decent numbers and add flexibility to fit in the Argentine’s gameplan.

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