Angus Kinnear on an 'intense' transfer window and Leeds United's pursuit of Brighton defender Ben White

The Whites chief was speaking to The Square Ball podcast about the summer transfer window.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:09 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:12 pm

Angus Kinnear has described the summer transfer window as intense with Leeds United looking to push on with their Premier League recruitment.

The Elland Road club ensured a return to the top flight last month by lifting the Championship title under Marcelo Bielsa’s guidance following a 16-year exile in the Football League.

Attention has turned swiftly to the upcoming campaign, which kicks off on September 12, amid a shortened summer break following the coronavirus pandemic.

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Leeds have made a number of signings already as Illan Meslier’s loan move became permanent from Lorient along with Helder Costa from Wolves while Jack Harrison has once again joined the club from Manchester City.

United have bolstered their development ranks with headline signings Joe Geldhardt and Cody Drameh, but are still on the search for what chief executive Kinnear describes as “three or four key positions” in the first-team squad.

Leeds set their stall out early on in the window believing that continuity under their Argentine head coach would be crucial during their first assault on the Premier League since 2004.

“The window is really intense. It’s hard,” Kinnear told The Square Ball podcast.

Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear. (Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“For the past two weeks a lot of players and agents have been on holiday. Normally everyone would have a little bit of down time as the season finishes and then everyone would be back up and running.

“We’ve had to make approaches to players, agents and other clubs in this small window that we’ve had and it is challenging because we know Marcelo wants the players in as early as possible.

“He wants to integrate them. It’s a balance of trying to get people in as soon as possible and not compromise on the quality.

“Victor [Orta] and Marcelo have a very close relationship but it is challenging because Victor will find players that, to all intents and purposes, look exactly like the ones we should sign.

“Marcelo will then have two or three issues with them that he doesn’t think are fixable.

"You might also have a player who shows up less highly from a statistical perspective but Marcelo will be able to do this and that with him. It is how it can be.

"It’s a really collaborative process between Andrea [Radrizzani], Victor, Marcelo and myself.

"The good thing now [being in the Premier League] is that we have a much wider base of players to target.”

He added: “We don’t intend to do a lot of business. It’s really three or four key positions we need to strengthen which I think is achievable in this space of time.”

One player Leeds have been chasing is Brighton defender Ben White, who spent last season on loan in West Yorkshire as a key part of Bielsa’s promotion winners.

Leeds have seen two official bids turned down by the Seagulls for the centre-back and Kinnear remains realistic about whether the 22-year-old can be brought to Elland Road this summer.

"I think it’s going to be incredibly challenging,” Kinnear admitted.

“We’ve made no secret of how highly we rate Ben. You can see what he has done last season. We could have done without him ripping one into the top corner in the last game.

"As everyone else celebrated I just had my head in my hands!

“The reality is he did a wonderful job for us but he’s a Brighton player. They rate him very highly and I’m sure they see us as a rival.

"There is competition for his position at Brighton. I would imagine they’ll need to give him a level of confidence that he is going to be selected week in and week out.

"The conversations are continuing but we have to be respectful of Brighton’s position and the fact that he is their player.

“There is no lack of financial commitment in terms of trying to secure him but there becomes a point where you have to accept that it’s not going to happen and that you don’t pursue someone for too long at the expense of other targets.

"We have two or three other names in that group in that position who supporters should be really excited about.

"I know emotionally it won’t have the same appeal as getting Ben back but, if it doesn’t work, then I think we have some good cover lined up.”

Asked if the figure the club might be required to spend this summer was around the 75 to 100 million mark, Kinnear revealed: “It’s that type of level when you look at agent fees, wages and the transfer bonuses.”

"That's the level you need to be at. It can be spread out over time but you're look at 10 to 20 million just to get players that have a chance to compete at this level."