Leeds United remain on course for promotion this season.
All being well, Leeds United will begin 2019 within the Championship’s automatic promotion spots.
Marcelo Bielsa has enjoyed a near-flawless start to life as manager of the Whites – having lost just three of his 22 games in charge, at the time of writing.
It is a somewhat remarkable feat given that, at some point or another, the Argentine has had to do without numerous key players – notably Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Luke Ayling – for prolonged spells.
And having passed such tests with flying colours, there may be a temptation, particularly on the part of Leeds’ owner Andrea Radrizzani, to attack the season’s latter half with the same squad of players.
On the other hand, a couple of the right additions could all but seal the Whites’ return to the Premier League – and help them to avoid being caught short should further injuries occur, especially with Samu Saiz having already left to join Getafe ahead of next month.
But which players could be leaving Elland Road in January? We spoke to three Leeds fans to see what they think might happen…
Will Leeds need to sell to raise funds?
Jordan Harris (@JordanHarris811): After seeing Ronaldo Vieira sold to raise funds for Patrick Bamford, I imagine that we would need to sell if we have any big plans. But to be honest, I don’t expect any big bids for targets.
Jonathan Peel (JPeel05): Yes, it seems to be the situation we’re in at the minute. We’re not skint, but we’re not flush with cash either.
Will Butcher (@WillButcher8): With Bielsa suggesting that he doesn’t want to make any signings, I don’t feel as though funds will need to be raised anyway.
Are there any positions that are over-stocked?
JH: Bielsa works with a small squad, so I wouldn’t say we’re over-stocked anywhere. We’re lucky with the amount of forwards we currently have. I think most Championship sides would love to have a player of Patrick Bamford’s quality being kept out of the team after scoring a winning goal as he did at Bolton.
JP: Bielsa loves to have a tiny pool of players to pick from, to ensure that everyone is getting regular game-time and is therefore ready to step into the breach whenever they’re called upon. So, the short answer’s no; if anything, in the traditionalist’s view, we’re probably massively under-stocked in all our positions.
WB: I don’t feel any positions are over-stocked, but perhaps out wide.
Which players do you fear losing in January and which would you like to see the back of?
JH: The main worry is Jack Clarke. There has apparently been some Premier League interest, and if we don’t go up this year, I think we will struggle to keep him. And after how quickly everything happened with Saiz, I’m just hoping all of the key players are as happy as they appear to be.
We’re in an unfamiliar position in that I don’t want any of the first-team squad to leave. Players who have struggled lately like Lewis Baker, Jack Harrison and Gjanni Alioski have the quality to turn their form around – and that may be vital at the end of the season.
JP: I would’ve feared losing Saiz, but that’s already happened, so nothing to worry about. Kalvin Phillips is the lynchpin of the whole system, lose him and we could be in trouble – but I can’t see anyone leaving for anything other than silly money.
WB: I fear losing (Pontus) Jansson, as I do every window. And if we lost Kalvin Phillips, our promotion chances would be severely affected. I’d like to see the back of Alioski – he doesn’t cut it for me.
Any players (including loanees) you suspect could leave?
JH: I think some of the players currently out on loan until January will head out again. I also expect Pawel Cibicki to go. But I don’t think Bielsa has changed his mind enough on any of the players he’s used this season to be tempted to let them leave next month.
JP: Honestly no – although I wouldn’t complain if Lewis Baker was sent back to Chelsea, he’s been exceptionally ineffective.
WB: I don’t feel that many first-team players will leave, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Baker or Harrison had their loans cancelled.
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