Saturday, December 3, 2022

Leeds United Among Clubs Interested In Spanish Defender: Should Bielsa Make A Summer Move?

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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.

According to AS, Leeds United are tracking Elche defender Juan Cruz. The left-back has been identified as a target for many clubs across Europe, having impressed in the second division this campaign. Mallorca, Real Valladolid, CA Osasuna and Leeds United are among the clubs already interested in Cruz, with Elche considering a sale in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Juan Cruz’s rise to prominence

A product of the Atletico Madrid youth department, Cruz joined Elche CF in the summer of 2018, in a free transfer from Rayo Majadahonda. The move paid off as the left-back quickly became a regular fixture in the Elche first-team, notably making 34 appearances in his debut campaign.

That trend has continued this season as well, except Cruz has been performing on a whole new level. The Spaniard has registered eight assists in just 27 games so far, compared to the one he mustered last season. His excellent performances on the left flank have helped Elche compete for promotion, with the club pretty much in contention to finish within top six.

However, Cruz is also facing an uncertain future at the club as his contract reportedly expires at the end of next season. It further states Elche might be forced to sell their prized defender as they look to deal with the financial crisis inflicted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

What can he bring to the table?

Cruz is an attacking fullback, blessed with immense technical prowess. He loves to attack the opposition and create chances, with his vision allowing him to find passes throughout the final third. The 27-year-old is an exceptional crosser of the ball – making him an effective source of creativity.

Leeds United are tracking Elche defender Juan Cruz - Should Bielsa plot a move for this defensive star?
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 21: Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage on December 21, 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

At the same time, however, Cruz is also aware of his defensive chores. He has pace and awareness that allows him to keep up with his markers, thus making him a well-rounded fullback.

Leeds United are tracking Elche defender Juan Cruz: Should Bielsa make a move?

Cruz is an exciting option for Leeds United, especially if they do look for a replacement for Barry Douglas, who could benefit from a move away from Elland Road. The Elche defender has shown a lot of promise this season, and unlike the hard-working and dynamic duo of Ezgjan Alioski and Stuart Dallas, he can add more technicality in the side.

Indeed, the Spaniard can offer more assurance in terms of ball retention in the wide defensive areas of the pitch. It could allow Marcelo Bielsa to utilise someone like Alioski in a more advanced role.

But more importantly, Cruz will be available for a cut-price and with that in mind, he could be a smart piece of investment for the Championship league leaders this summer as they look to bolster their defensive option prior to a potential promotion back to the Premier League.

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