Exclusive: Victor Orta explains Leeds United's summer transfer window stance on midfielder

Victor Orta says the return to fitness of Adam Forshaw is one of the reasons Leeds United have not signed a midfielder.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 9:24 pm

Just 11 months ago the Whites were willing to spend around £20m on Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Cuisance before pulling out of the deal after his medical.

Ahead of the summer transfer window opening Leeds were clear that they wanted a left-back as a priority, with a midfielder and a winger after that. Orta landed Junior Firpo from Barcelona to fill the left-back vacancy and today, on deadline day, he added Manchester United winger to Marcelo Bielsa' s squad in a £25m deal. But no first team midfielder has appeared, despite efforts to secure Conor Gallagher from Chelsea on loan and bids made for Huddersfield Town's Lewis O'Brien. Lewis Bate did arrive in a move from Chelsea, but has joined up with Mark Jackson's Under 23s initially.

Orta says Forshaw's re-emergence as an option, after almost two years out of action through a hip problem that required surgery and a complex rehabilitation, was chief among the reasons Leeds were content to reach the end of the window without further midfield signings.

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The 29-year-old has gradually increased his work load over pre-season and earned match minutes in friendly games before playing an hour against Crewe Alexandra in the Carabao Cup, pleasing head coach Bielsa with his effort and his response to the run-out.

"For me one of the expectations we had in the summer was the fitness and the performing of Adam Forshaw," Orta told the YEP.

"After three months it's really clear - he's fit in this moment, he had really good minutes against Crewe, he is growing."

Another aspect Orta considers important is the ability of several players to operate in positions other than their own. Bielsa sees both Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk among his options to deputise for Kalvin Phillips, who along with Stuart Dallas, Jamie Shackleton Mateusz Klich can play the box-to-box role, with the Pole also acting as cover for the attacking midfield spot. Forshaw, predominantly a number eight, has experience of playing in a more defensive, deep-lying position. Beyond them lie Bate, Jack Jenkins and Nohan Kenneh in the Under 23s.

COMING BACK - Leeds United midfielder Adam Forshaw is 'fit and growing' says director of football Adam Forshaw. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

"The versatility of our players means we have central defenders who can play number six, we have a central midfielder who can play number eight, a number eight who can play number six," said Orta.

"We have the versatility in our squad. To be honest, to play for Marcelo Bielsa in this position in our style, requires elements that need to be in a clear name, a clear player. This market, for me it is absolutely circumstantial about that. We have a player like Stuart Dallas who sorts a lot of situations because he can play in four positions and that gives you an idea of the position we are in. We are in a really good kind. I still believe that. We have the midfielders who do the most running in the league, by far we are the team with the most kilometres in the Premier League."

As for O'Brien, Orta says the failure to strike a deal with Huddersfield was simply down to valuation. The Terriers wanted £8m for the 22-year-old, a price Leeds did not feel inclined to meet and with Bielsa happy for the club to move on, they did so.

"It was a different valuations," said Orta.

"I respect these kind of things, they happen in football. You have one idea, the club owning the player has another idea. If it matches, perfect, if not they have to continue and you have to continue."