According to a report from Finnish media Helsingin Sanomat, Leeds United have agreed on a deal with Barnsley for the permanent sale of their centre back Aapo Halme. The defender had joined the Whites in January 2018 from HJK Helsinki. The young defender made just four appearances for the Whites in the past one and a half year, and it seems like the Whites felt that he was surplus to their requirements.
Barnsley managed to win back promotion to the Championship after finishing second in League One last season. The Whites signed the Finnish centre back for €560,000 in 2018. The report doesn’t mention how much Leeds United are getting for him from Barnsley, but we feel it is likely that the Whites are selling him on some profit as the defender had his deal at Elland Road until 2022.
The signing of Ben White now makes sense
Leed United recently brought in Brighton and Hove Albion’s defender Ben White on a season-long loan. Like Halme, White is also an upcoming talent who is still just 21. The English defender doesn’t have much experience of playing at the top level as his major appearances have come for Peterborough United and Newport County on loan.
Many fans must have thought that there is no need for the signing of White when they have a similar young defender like Halme at their disposal. The Finland u-21 international might not have made a significant impact for the Yorkshire outfit, but he looked assured in the four appearances he got last season. His performance against tough opponents like Bristol City and Sheffield United were applauded, and it is something of a surprise that the club has let him go.
Why might Bielsa have taken this step?
One issue with this exchange of defenders is that United are only getting their man on a loan deal and Barnsley are looking to sign Halme permanently. Maybe Bielsa would have been better off sending away Halme on loan.
We think that Barnsley’s offer might have been too good for the club to refuse as there seemed no reason for the club to bring in a 21-year-old defender that also on loan. One advantage Halme would have had this season was that he was already used to Bielsa’s demands and system as he was involved with the first team last season.
It remains to be seen whether White would be able to settle in quickly at the club. Leeds United have to comply with the financial rules, and it does seem that the Whites have to sell players to spend on players. With the short term goal of promotion in sight, this was what made sense financially.