Thursday, October 6, 2022

Leeds United Suffer Big Blow In Pursuit Of This English Keeper: What Should Be Bielsa’s Play Now?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

Leeds United have suffered a big blow in pursuit of Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. The Sun reported on Sunday that the Whites along with Brighton and Hove Albion are keen on securing a loan move for the English goalie when the transfer window commences in January.

However, in a recent interview (via Sky Sports), Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has squashed those claims as he said, “Dean wants to stay at Manchester United and play for Manchester United.”

Henderson’s Mounting Frustrations At Manchester This Season

Henderson has been a sporadic feature in Solskjaer’s first-team this season as David De Gea has been preferred ahead of him to start at the Theatre of Dreams week in week out. The 23-year-old has been involved in three matches for Man United this term and has let in two goals while keeping two clean sheets in multiple competitions.

The English shot-stopper had a terrific loan spell with Sheffield United in the previous campaign when he conceded 37 goals and secured 14 clean sheets in 40 appearances on all fronts. However, his ball-distribution was woeful during his stay at Bramall Lane as he made only 36.8% of his attempted passes in the Premier League (stats via whoscored).

Henderson currently finds himself in a tough position because he is not getting regular game time while Man United remain insistent that he still has a bright future at Old Trafford. Only time will tell whether he can replace De Gea as the future number one goalkeeping option in Solskjaer’s squad.

Leeds United suffer big blow in pursuit of Dean Henderson who is in action in the picture
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City has a penalty saved by Dean Henderson of Sheffield United during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester City at Bramall Lane on January 21, 2020, in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

What Does The English Goalie Offer On The Pitch?

Henderson possesses excellent reflexes that allow him to make some excellent stops at the back. He is also a decent handler of the ball when coming out to collect crosses inside his penalty box. The English goalkeeper can also put his foot through the ball to make a clearance when the opposition players are pressing him high up the field. He is a no-nonsense shot-stopper who can sometimes give away the ball cheaply as he is a not a very accurate passer of the ball.

What Should Be Bielsa’s Play Now?

A bright, young keeper like Henderson would have been a good fit for the Whites as he would have solved a problem area in Bielsa’s squad. While Illan Meslier has been good enough in the Premier League so far, he has shipped in 17 goals in just nine league matches and has only got three clean sheets to show for his efforts. In my opinion, as good as Meslier had been this season, Henderson would have been an upgrade.

Kiko Casilla is edging closer towards the end of his career and far from a reliable option for Bielsa to call upon to replace Meslier as his first-choice keeper at Elland Road. Hence, missing out on the loan signing of Henderson will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Whites as they could have really used someone of his skillset in the second half of this campaign. For now, Bielsa would have no choice but to look at other options.

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