Monday, December 5, 2022

Why Leeds United Could Fancy Taking A Gamble On This Borussia Dortmund Youngster This Summer

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

Leeds United will be actively searching for reinforcements in the defensive department this summer as they brace themselves for a potential return to the Premier League. The Whites are trying to secure the services of Ben White permanently, but they need more defenders, especially with Gaetano Berardi’s contract expiring at the end of the campaign.

One player Leeds could look at signing is Leonardo Balerdi of Borussia Dortmund.

Balerdi’s struggles at Borussia Dortmund

Balerdi joined Borussia Dortmund at the start of last year, in a €15 million move from BOCA Juniors. He was, at the time, regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in South America, notably winning a cap for the Argentine national team in September.

However, to this day, Balerdi has featured in just two competitive games for Borussia Dortmund. Despite the club’s lack of reliable options in the defensive department, the youngster has often trailed Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou in the pecking order. And following the transformation of Lukasz Piszczek into a CB, it has become more difficult for him to get a first-team opportunity.

As a result, Balerdi has been mainly playing for the BVB reserve side, with the defender already making eight appearances in the Regionalliga West, which is the fourth tier of German football.

What can he offer to the table?

Balerdi is identified as a ball-playing centre-back. He is very composed with the ball at his feet and is capable of threading laser passes. Hence, his style of play can be compared to former Dortmund defender Marc Bartra.

MARBELLA, SPAIN – JANUARY 05: head coach Lucien Favre of Borussia Dortmund and Leonardo Balerdi of Borussia Dortmund gestures during day two of the Borussia Dortmund winter training camp on January 05, 2020, in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Bongarts/Getty Images)

At the same time, however, the Argentine also has an imposing 1.87m frame that gives him a significant advantage in aerial duels. It also makes him a threat from set-pieces while his long legs become useful when making tackles.

Another key aspect of Balerdi’s game is his ability to read the play. He is an aggressive defender, who isn’t afraid to come out of his line and block passing lanes, thus cutting down potential sources of a counter-attack.

Why Leeds should consider a move for Balerdi

Balerdi could be an interesting addition to the Leeds United setup that clearly lacks depth in the defensive department. As mentioned earlier, the BVB defender has the technical prowess that could add a new dimension to the Whites backline and provide support to Kalvin Phillips during the build-up.

Even for the player, a move to Leeds United would make sense. The Championship league leaders will be able to provide him with the platform to showcase his potential in arguably the most competitive league in the world. Although the 21-year-old lacks experience at the highest level of football, his Argentine connection with Marcelo Bielsa could come in handy.

Moreover, Dortmund could easily be convinced to let go of Balerdi, who is yet to make the desired impact in the Bundesliga and given his struggles, he could be available for a cut-price.

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