Jesse Marsch already offered transfer verdict on Leeds United's £25 million gamble

Leeds United are aware of interest in winger Jack Harrison from fellow Premier League side Newcastle

Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 11:32 am

Amidst the drama of a final day victory over Brentford, it was largely forgotten that Jack Harrison scored more non-penalty goals last season than any other Leeds United player – including Raphinha.

The Englishman only got off the mark in January, but managed to score seven more times between the midway point of the season and that memorable blast on the final whistle at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Raphinha finished the campaign as Leeds’ top scorer with 11, but four of his strikes had been from the penalty spot, including Leeds’ opening goal on the final day.

Jesse Marsch speaks to the media following the 1-0 pre-season defeat by Aston Villa (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Admittedly, the underlying numbers behind the two wingers’ eventual tallies indicate an element of luck in Harrison finishing the year with eight, while Raphinha’s seven non-penalty strikes were – according to Expected Goals – fairly representative of the chances he dispatched of.

Nevertheless, Harrison’s eventual total was another sign of improvement from the 25-year-old, playing fewer minutes but matching his goal haul from the previous season, whilst adding another two in the Carabao Cup to take his tally to ten across all competitions.

In 2019/20, he managed six goals as Leeds were promoted and the season before just four goals.

This is perhaps a key reason for Newcastle United’s interest in the wide-man this summer.

There were also musings from Tottenham Hotspur towards the end of last season, but Newcastle’s interest appears the most concrete.

Having signed for Leeds in an £11 million switch last summer on a three-year deal, the figures bandied about alongside reports of the Magpies’ transfer intent would see Leeds double their investment at the very least.

However, a £25 million Harrison sale in addition to Raphinha and Phillips’ exits would be a gamble – and difficult to swallow if results were not forthcoming in the early part of the season.

Leeds only managed to score 42 league goals last year; Raphinha and Harrison were directly involved in 23 of those.

Taking into account the pair’s assists, Leeds would effectively be signing away 55 per-cent of last season’s attacking arsenal by agreeing a sale.

There is no guarantee the likes of Luis Sinisterra and Brenden Aaronson will be able to pick up the slack as they acclimatise to a new division, having never played in Europe’s top five leagues before, never mind the Premier League.

And last season, Leeds’ Achilles heel was their injury record and lack of squad depth.

Hypothetically, after parting with Raphinha and Harrison, Leeds would be left with Daniel James, Crysencio Summerville and Luis Sinisterra as Jesse Marsch’s wide options in attack, potentially but not definitely supplemented by Helder Costa and Ian Poveda whose futures remain uncertain after missing the club’s pre-season tour.

Harrison may still divide opinion amongst supporters but has largely remained a constant in this side over the past couple of seasons and last year availability transpired to be a key attribute for any Leeds player.

Leeds’ position is they are more reluctant towards selling Harrison than Newcastle are keen to add him to Eddie Howe’s squad.

Financially, the club are not in need of additional funds, as per the latest accounts which do not yet take into consideration the combined £100 million windfall from Raphinha and Phillips’ departures.

Most would view Harrison being allowed to leave Elland Road as a gamble, but as seen throughout this window every player has his price.

Jesse Marsch, though, has made his stance clear on the 25-year-old: if he did not envisage a spot in his plans for Harrison this coming season, he would have been left at Thorp Arch along with others who are set to move out on loan or permanently.

“There’s always been interest in Jack, like many of our players,” he said after defeat to Aston Villa last weekend.

“But I know that Jack is also very happy here and that he’s done a really good job, that he’s a big part of what we’re doing."