Fresh take on Leeds United's ownership picture, transfer exits and finances in worst-case scenario
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Elland Road will play host to a brand new project, no matter what happens in the Whites’ clashes with the Hammers and Spurs on the final day. The Leeds squad is in need of a rebuild, an era feels like it’s coming to an end and with Victor Orta gone there is a vacancy for someone to sculpt the way forward at LS11. There will likely be a new manager, there will be new players and new opportunities for the Under 21 talent coming through the ranks at Thorp Arch.
Naturally, with tension rife and nerves jangling, fans want to know what’s going to happen, who will remain when the dust settles and what we’ve had for lunch.
Here are your questions on the ownership situation involving Andrea Radrizzani and the 49ers, the recruitment picture this summer, Sam Allardyce’s future, the consequences of possible relegation and our gut, head and heart feelings about the last two games, answered as best we can.
Leeds United Q and A
- Staying up or going down?
- What happens next?
- End of the road for some players regardless?
@Fredderico15: Will Andrea Radrizzani sell if we go down or will he look to make an immediate return to the top flight?
A few weeks ago I might have predicted that relegation would keep Andrea Radrizzani in place. My thinking was two-fold. One - Radrizzani could perhaps look at a Championship season, aided by parachute payments, and see a good chance to lead the club back up at the first time of asking, in order to reap full price for Leeds next summer. My second thought was that the 49ers got into this to own a Premier League club.
But the way things have gone, the departure of Victor Orta and the introduction of Sam Allardyce was as sure a sign as any that the project had come to an abrupt end. Supporters have also run out of patience with the current regime, that much is abundantly clear. The ownership situation has been under discussion in the boardroom for months on end but now we’re at a point where Leeds need to be making two firm plans - one for the drop and one for staying up. Staying up is easy - the 49ers pay the previously agreed price and Radrizzani says goodbye. Going down complicates it a little more but if the two parties can come to an agreed price then the best thing for the club is that it comes under new ownership. I’m not sure how much tolerance the fanbase will have for anything else.
Speed is of the essence, obviously, because should the worst come to be then supporters will need and deserve to know within hours, if not a day or two at most, who is going to own their club, who is going to run it, who is going to sign players and who is going to manage them. Any delay could have serious consequences for next season and the absolute nightmare scenario is one where Leeds would stay in the Championship for more than a single season. The longer you’re down there, the harder it becomes to get back up and the bigger the risk of apathy setting in at this club again.
@Beatthefirstma2: What are the plans regarding new Director of Football?
Recruitment is one of the big discussions going on at the club right now. You’d have to think that the uncertainty over their divisional status for next season would be off-putting for some top targets for the role but Leeds can hardly take their time over this. The right person is key, if they are to go for a like-for-like replacement and bring in someone to run the footballing vision at Elland Road as Victor Orta did. That person would want a say in who the manager is, so getting them through the door first would be a priority. Before that, the ownership situation needs to be settled, or at least the boardroom needs to be in agreement on how to move forward in terms of football operations and recruitment. What we don’t yet know is whether or not Leeds might consider a different model to the one that has been running in the past several years. There’s a lot to be decided on the pitch and just as much off it.
@cammyt1997: Do you think Bielsa would be willing to manage both a club and country like in FIFA manager mode?
I’m not sure that Marcelo Bielsa will be aware of FIFA manager mode, but I am quite sure that the footballing talent and resources of Uruguay will be occupying so much of his brain that another job would be out of the question. I’m also certain the sales of Uruguay shirts are set for a sharp rise in West Yorkshire.
@lewisleeds03: What are your thoughts on the current relationship between players and fans?
Strained, obviously, but that was always going to be the case after not one but two seasons of Premier League struggle. It hasn’t been fun, it hasn’t been good enough and whether they like it or not the players have to accept some responsibility for that. But if Bournemouth, at full-time, was the nadir for this squad and their relationship with supporters, then the two games since have brought an improvement. It felt, to me, in both those games that fans were making a statement that they had drawn a line in the sand and they were giving the players benefit of the doubt, with full vocal backing. If they get a performance at West Ham, then I think they’ll respond to it. Everyone has to be on the same page and stay there for as long as suvival is a possibility.
The Patrick Bamford situation is different, because a lot of the social media stuff aimed at him and his family was evidently beyond the pale. No one of a reasonable mind would send some of the messages that were received, or highlighted by his fiancee. Perhaps Luke Ayling’s Instagram caption on Tuesday night was a sign of seige mentality setting in a little. He appeared to be drawing a line between the supporters in the stadium and social media critics, although in such a sensitive time any level of ambiguity is going to create debate and interpretation. All that matters, really, is that for the next two games there’s unity. Whether you like this team or individual players or not, everyone wants the same outcome.
@tayla_johnsonx: Who would you say is your player of the season and why?
This was a difficult question to answer when things were going well and there were so many candidates. Right now it’s difficult to answer for very different reasons. Tyler Adams is up there, isn’t he? He was largely consistent, made an impact and his absence has been keenly felt. Rodrigo has scored a lot of goals, in a struggling side. His goals have kept Leeds in the fight, at least. Robin Koch has had a few wobbles but his performances have generally been solid across the piece. Max Wober would be a candidate had he not arrived with half the season gone. Willy Gnonto was running away with it probably until inexplicably featuring so little under Javi Gracia. Pick one of those, just don’t expect much of a fanfare. Individual awards are the last thing on anyone’s mind when a season goes as this one has.
@jake7158: If we go down, who are some players that will most definitely leave?
This is a really good question, albeit based on a really bad scenario. When there are noises about a player’s personal ambitions, in a struggling team during a struggling season, it makes me think there’s a very good chance they will seek an exit when possible. We’ve heard noises about Robin Koch and his international dream. There have been noises about Illan Meslier. They are both players I could see departing in the summer should Leeds go down and maybe even if they stay up.
Luis Sinisterra might have been considered too good for the Championship prior to issues that have bestowed ‘injury-prone’ status upon him. Willy Gnonto would tear it up in the Championship but he would surely have tempting offers this summer, perhaps even back home in Serie A. Tyler Adams would be a difficult one to keep hold of because he has shown himself to be a Premier League player. Jack Harrison is every inch a ‘saleable asset’ and could bring in a sum that helps balance the books.
You wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Rodrigo heading back to Spain. You would be surprised to see Diego Llorente sticking around, having been deemed surplus to requirements. Cody Drameh staying would be a stunning development. His camp have already made it clear he’s off, because there simply hasn’t been a pathway for him to senior football at Leeds, despite persistent talk of one. It never materialised. Luke Ayling and Rasmus Kristensen were blocking his path before he went out for another successful loan and you have to ask if Leeds are better off because of it.
The plan and immediate future for Georginio Rutter will be most fascinating. Club record signing in January, barely used in the first team, likely having a far harder time of it than he ever anticipated but yet still possessing big potential. Do you try and recoup some of that cash, using that potential as a selling point, or do you send him out on loan and see how he does back in France or Germany before making a permanent decision on his Leeds future?
@Lynchyyyyy: Who in your opinion is the greatest rock guitarist of all time?
Tom Morello has always been the one for me. Innovation, versatility and huge old riffs. For a more Yorkshire flavour, although they might also be considered a Derbyshire band, I like Sean Long of While She Sleeps.
@ianhds09: Who would you keep if we end up going down for next season?
Some of the players who got the club promoted would give you the experience that can guide a new-look team and you’d think they could play a part on the pitch too. Leeds need to progress in certain areas of the pitch, they do need a significant reset regardless of the division they find themselves in and must build a new team of heroes but you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water when you get relegated. Adam Forshaw’s injury record is difficult to look past, so perhaps a pay-as-you-play deal would work for both parties because, as he told the YEP last week, he’d love to stay. He’s a quality operator, when fit.
Keeping Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville would be highly advantageous in a footballing sense. There seems little chance of it, but keeping Cody Drameh would be ideal. He’s already a good Championship right-back with a very high ceiling.
Retaining as many of the Under 21 talents as possible would also be advised because if you can blood them in the Championship to aid their development, maybe you save yourself a fortune in the long-term.
@jamess_wood: Has the Augustin fiasco finally reached its end?
The year is 2050 and...
In all seriousness, no it has not. Leeds were ordered to pay £24.5m compensation for breach of contract, which felt inevitable as soon as they lost their argument with RB Leipzig, and they will of course try to appeal this verdict too. An out-of-court settlement might be possible but there’s no news on that just yet.
@tetleyy: Whose been the most influential player over the last five years? For me I’d probably say Pablo.
Hard to look past Pablo Hernandez, although his influence peaked in the 2019/20 campaign didn’t it? More recently Kalvin Phillips carried a huge influence on the pitch, in a Marcelo Bielsa side anyway. Raphinha was hugely influential. This season you cannot really pick someone out who has had Hernandez-level influence. Ever since the Spaniard returned home Leeds have lacked an attacking midfielder with his ability to kill a defence with a pass or kill a goalkeeper with a pinpoint shot.