Kemar Roofe or Patrick Bamford - who can be the one to fire Leeds United's promotion charge?

Leeds United’s search for a prolific front man saw them land at Patrick Bamford’s door last summer.

By Joe Urquhart
Friday, 5th July 2019, 10:06 am
Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe.
Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe.

The 25-year-old made the move to Elland Road from Middlesbrough in a deal worth an initial £7million, with hopes pinned on his shoulders that he could be the man to provide United with that added firepower up front.

Kemar Roofe, though, ended the campaign as the Whites’ top goalscorer for a second straight season as he found the back of the net on 15 occasions in the league.

Pablo Hernandez also bagged 12 times while Mateusz Klich pitched in with a further 10 from midfield.

Forwards Roofe and Bamford combined for a total of 24 goals in the Championship last term, though injury hampered both of their seasons at pivotal points.

The former made a stunning start to the campaign as he bagged four goals in the opening exchanges which landed him the August player of the month trophy. The latter missed six months of the season after suffering knee ligament damage during an Under-23s outing at Elland Road in September.

Roofe also suffered injury issues following the turn of the year, and failed to hit the same heights upon his return in the latter stages of the season.

With United’s acquisitions in the summer window so far, Bielsa’s squad has been bolstered by the senior signings of Wolves winger Helder Costa, Manchester City’s Jack Harrison and Brighton defender Ben White.

The re-signing of Harrison and statement arrival of Costa in particular are an admission that a cutting edge was lacking in the final third last season. Bielsa’s men came in for criticism over their deadly touch in the opposition box, fluffing a number of chances that cost United dearly as the promotion race hotted up.

Championship winners Norwich City boasted Teemu Pukki in their ranks, with the forward bagging 29 times. Sheffield United – who sneaked over the line in front of the Whites for Premier League football – also saw Billy Sharp strike on 23 occasions.

It seems, the 20-goal mark is the target for any forward worth their weight if top-flight football is the aim.

United appear settled in their options up front this summer in hoping to achieve that goal, with Bamford and Roofe continuing to fight for the number nine shirt in the line-up.

Bielsa did, though, opt to play Roofe behind Bamford when presented the opportunity to do so, though it wasn’t a regular occurrence last term.

Healthy competition never hurt anyone, and the pair have certainly found it since their return to Thorp Arch last week.

“Unfortunately last year, I think we might’ve had one proper game playing together before I was injured then he was,” Bamford said.

“We push each other on. We have jokes in training and wind each other up, but in a way that pushes us to try and score and do better.

“It’s almost like a little competition each time. No competition is friendly, but it is amongst mates so it does help.”

Leeds will be hoping that the friendly competition between the pair can push them on to new heights under the Argentine, with luck needed to avoid any nasty long lay-offs this time around.

Roofe in now into the last 12 months of his contract at Elland Road, while Bamford penned a four-year deal last summer – an added level of intrigue to a battle on who can be United’s main man.

If Leeds are to end their long absence from England’s elite, it’s certainly going to be needed.

Below we take a look at those Whites’ strikers who have hit above the 20-goal mark in recent seasons:

Chris Wood – Bagged 29 goals in the 2016/17 campaign. Wood endured a difficult start to life at Elland Road, but became a key figure under former boss Garry Monk as he found his shooting boots. Made the move to Premier League side Burnley that same summer in a deal worth £15m.

Ross McCormack – The 2013/14 season was a prolific one for McCormack as he bagged on 29 occasions. The forward saw his form rewarded with an £11m move to Fulham.

Luciano Becchio – Cost less than Berbatov and more often than not did score more goals – 20 of them to be exact in the 2010/11 campaign, which was United’s first back in the Championship.

Jermaine Beckford – Remembered most for his goal against Manchester United. Beckford scored over 20 goals in three consecutive seasons for Leeds, including finding the back of the net 24 times as the Whites secured promotion from League One in 2010.