Leeds United and Azzedine Ounahi - transfer state of play after Whites’ £39m January decision
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The Whites feel like they're in a solid position with their recruitment, two weeks ahead of the transfer deadline, having got their priority targets through the door already. Left-back and striker were the two positions in which Victor Orta wanted to strengthen this month and both Max Wober, of RB Salzburg, and Georginio Rutter, of Hoffenheim, have arrived to bolster Jesse Marsch's options.
Wober cost the club in the region of £11m, while Rutter represents a club record deal thanks to an initial fee of £28m - although Leeds will, as they do with most transfers, spread that cost over the length of his contract.
The YEP reported last week that Leeds could seek to add to the midfield area as well this month, following the loss of Mateusz Klich to MLS outfit DC United and they're currently mulling over their options.
Ounahi is a player Orta has been assessing for some time but his price tag, along with the potential competition for his signature, are potential sticking points. Leeds did look at the 22-year-old in the summer, when they were quoted between £8m and £12m, but following a breakout World Cup display for Morocco he could now cost somewhere in the region of £25m.
Orta did address the player’s situation on the record with Radio Marca following the World Cup, suggesting that Ounahi outperformed the standards he had previously set with club side Angers in France. Ounahi’s performances were such that Leeds’ majority owner Andrea Radrizzani was messaging Orta about his transfer status.
Serie A leaders Napoli are also said to be keen, leaving Leeds to consider whether to move for another target as things start to shift elsewhere in the latter stages of the window, or try and get Ounahi done prior to the deadline.
The club insists they are content with Marsch's midfield as it stands thanks to the early-season form of Tyler Adams, who has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and his partner Marc Roca. The latter also displayed impressive initial form, although that has wavered a little in recent weeks. Marsch has Sam Greenwood and Adam Forshaw in place as back up for the first-choice pairing, with Darko Gyabi impressing in his cameos so far and Archie Gray expected back in training soon after an ankle issue surfaced.
It's unlikely, at this stage, that there will be much more in the way of senior recruitment this month, although the emergence of loan interest in goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson could lead to the introduction of another young stopper, if the Norwegian heads out for gametime elsewhere.
And Leeds are also currently tracking a teenage centre-back who plies his trade in Portugal and would be seen initially as a player for the Under 21s squad if a deal could be done at the end of the window.