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Striker Confirms Leeds United Interest In January: Will He Be A Viable Option For Bielsa 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.

During an interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Joel Pohjanpalo has confirmed Leeds United interest in January. The HSV forward has claimed that the Championship league leaders were among the clubs interested in him earlier this year when he was at Bayer Leverkusen. However, as Pohjanpalo was looking for a club who can ensure regular game-time,  the striker snubbed Leeds United in favour of HSV, on a short-term loan deal.

Joel Pohjanpalo’s revival at HSV

Pohjanpalo has been a part of the Bayer Leverkusen team since 2013 when he joined from HJK Helsinki. He spent a productive campaign at Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2014/15 and even enjoyed a promising spell in the Bundesliga during the 2016/17 campaign, scoring six goals in 11 matches.

However, Pohjanpalo’s progress was halted by an unfortunate ankle injury in 2017 that kept him out for over 14 months. It was followed by a host of fitness problems that forced him to be out action for four more months before he eventually returned to full fitness in December of last year. Pohjanpalo was immediately loaned out to HSV in January, and he hasn’t had to look back since.

The Finnish international has starred in HSV’s bright campaign under Dieter Hecking, netting a whopping eight goals in just 11 matches. His contributions in front of goal have helped the Red Shorts make a strong case for winning promotion as we head towards the final phase of the campaign.

What can he bring to the table?

Pohjanpalo, by all means, is a goal poacher. He likes to play on the shoulders of the last defender and is blessed with an immense positional sense that allows him to be at the right place at the right time. It is largely the reason why the 25-year-old has attained such a prolific scoring record in the Bundesliga despite his lack of game-time.

Joel Pohjanpalo has confirmed Leeds United interest in January - En route to becoming a Bundesliga star
HANOVER, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 15: Joel Pohjanpalo of Hamburger SV celebrate their teams first goal-scoring during the Second Bundesliga match between Hannover 96 and Hamburger SV at HDI-Arena on February 15, 2020, in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Selim Sudheimer/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A key asset in Pohjanpalo’s game is his physical prowess. Standing at 1.86m, the forward can hold his own in a physical duel and even excels in an aerial duel, thanks to his imposing frame.

Should Leeds United make a move for Pohjanpalo this summer?

Pohjanpalo could potentially turn out to be an excellent coup for Leeds United this summer. The Whites are desperately looking for reinforcements in the offensive unit, with Patrick Bamford struggling with productivity while Jean-Kevin Augustin has suffered from various fitness problems.

The Bayer Leverkusen star, in that regard, should provide the impetus going forward. His proven track record, combined with his physical and aerial prowess should tune in well with the nature of the Premier League football. He can, therefore, be utilised as a potential target-man by Marcelo Bielsa.

Moreover, Pohjanpalo is unlikely to cost a fortune, with Bayer Leverkusen already having a host of offensive stars at their disposal. Hence, the Fin should be a viable target for Leeds this summer, although they could face stiff competition from HSV, who are on the verge of making their return to the Bundesliga next season.

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