Leeds United will finally return to the Premier League according to Football Manager 2017, but fans at Elland Road may have to wait a while.
Eunan O'Kane is Leeds United captain on FM17 in 2021
It's August 2021; Martin Ødegaard has just joined Bayern Munich for £29 million, Ryan Giggs has just been appointed Sunderland manager and Leeds United have just played their first Premier League game since 2004.
That's right, after 17 long years of trying the 'Mighty Whites' have finally returned to the pinnacle of the English game. Championship runners-up behind Everton, the bookies are predicting a tough first season back in the Premier League for Leeds, making them the second favourites for relegation.
There's good news and bad news for Leeds fans. Leading goal scorer Chris Wood is long gone, having departed for Middlesbrough for £7.5 million a couple of years ago, whilst popular first team manager Garry Monk left in 2018, replacing Tony Pulis as West Brom boss.
Pontus Jansson broke Leeds fans hearts by deciding to return to Torino rather than remain at Elland Road, a decision which seems unlikely in the current climate. Rather than Jansson, Hadi Sacko was the Whites loanee who made his move a permanent, and he is now the club's most valuable player.
In Monk's absence, current Swindon boss Luke Williams has taken the reigns as Leeds manager, bringing in some familiar faces such as Ricardo Carvalho, Stewart Downing, Sylvain Distin and Fraizer Campbell as part of his coaching and scouting team.
England U21's international Dominic Iorfa is in Leeds' 2021 XI
Goalkeeper: Harry Lewis
With Marco Silvestri having been sold to Middlesbrough for an enormous profit, Rob Green having retired and youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell having been flogged to LA Galaxy for a whopping £10.5 million, Leeds United were in need of a new goalkeeper.
The man they opted for set them back just £85,000, and is only 23 years old. Former Shrewsbury trainee Harry Lewis currently plays for Southampton in real life, but he's in his second season as Leeds' first choice on FM17 in 2021.
Right Wing-Back: Luke Ayling
New boss Luke Williams has gone for a 3-5-2 formation at Elland Road, and versatile current Leeds man Luke Ayling has adapted to playing the position effectively. Aged 29 and in his sixth season with Leeds, Ayling has become one of the club's most consistent players.
Centre-Back: Paul Digby
Paul Digby in action for Ipswich Town
The first of three centre-backs, Paul Digby took the long route to Leeds on FM17. Currently of Ipswich Town, Digby made moves to Yeovil and Brentford before becoming a stalwart of the Leeds defence in 2019.
Centre-Back: Dominic Iorfa
A promising defender familiar to most Championship football fans, Dominic Iorfa is currently a regular for both Wolves and England's under-21's in real life. After two failed big money moves, the first to Leicester and the second to Brighton, Iorfa is looking to revive his career at Elland Road having been signed for just £1.5 million.
Centre-Back: Marc Wilson
Versatility is the theme of Leeds United's 2021 team according to FM17, and Marc Wilson is no exception. A £625,000 signing from current club Bournemouth, he has become a dependable squad player for Williams' men on the game.
Left Wing-Back: Stephen Hendrie
Stephen Hendrie puts in a challenge against Celtic
Current Blackburn youngster Stephen Hendrie, on-loan at Rovers from West Ham, has become a full Scotland international by 2021, and just joined Leeds from Brighton for £185,000. The Whites may have finally returned to the Premier League, but it's clear things are still being run on a tight budget.
Defensive Midfield: George Evans
One player Leeds have spent a bit of money on is George Evans. Still relative peanuts by Premier League standards, but the product of Manchester City's academy joined Leeds from Reading in 2020 for £3.8 million, and has proved a shrewd piece of business already.
Central Midfield: Luke Murphy
Despite currently not getting a look in at Elland Road, Luke Murphy fought his way back into the Leeds United team in 2018/19, and is now a first team regular. The former Crewe man has become a steady if not spectacular deep-lying midfielder in the Whites team.
Central Midfield: Eunan O'Kane
Both Eunan O’Kane and Hadi Sacko start for Leeds
Whilst Liam Bridcutt was sold to Swansea for £5.5 million, before moving on to Bordeaux, Luke Murphy and Eunan O'Kane have remained at Leeds, and now form the heart of their central midfield.
Alex Mowatt is also still at the club, and currently subject to a bid from Everton. Other central midfield options include Ben Reeves, signed for £1.2 million from MK Dons, and current youngster and first team player in real life Kalvin Philipps.
Centre-Forward: Hadi Sacko
Current loanee Hadi Sacko joined Leeds United from Sporting CP for a fee of £1.6 million at the end of the 2016/17 season. Better suited to being played on the right wing, Williams has opted to play Sacko up front, perhaps down to the fact that he scored an impressive 13 goals from wide areas in 2020/21, and also due to the 3-5-2 formation not accommodating any natural wingers.
Centre-Forward: Jack Dunn
Despite their promotion to the Premier League, following the sales of Chris Wood and Kemar Roofe, the White have struggled to find a consistent source of goals. Martyn Waghorn, Stephy Mavididi, Adebayo Azeez and Wayne Still (regen) are all options, but it's Jack Dunn who got the nod on the opening day.
Dunn, who currently plays his club football at Morecambe, on-loan from Liverpool, joined Leeds on a free transfer after his contract ran out at SPL side Hamilton. More of a false nine, Dunn contributed just 3 goals in 33 games during Leeds' promotion campaign, but remains in the team for the start of their Premier League return.