The final week of the transfer window, more than any other this summer and more than most in recent memory, is one that Leeds United have to get right.
The deadline for signings passes on Wednesday and, from that point through to January, the club’s squad will be their squad.
The rules of FIFA’s market still permit the recruitment of free agents after August 31 and Hal Robson-Kanu, the out-of-contract Wales international, is one player who plans to decide on a range of contract offers once the deadline elapses, but the death of the emergency loan market has significantly narrowed the margin of error by increasing the risk of clubs being caught short.
Garry Monk wants further additions to the squad at Elland Road during the coming five days and plans to balance any arrivals with the sale of fringe players but despite his remaining requirements, United’s head coach advocates an earlier transfer deadline and a window which shuts before the season starts.
In those circumstances Leeds would have played out the first half of this term without Liam Bridcutt, Luke Ayling and Pontus Jansson – three of their 11 summer signings – but Monk said the closure of the window at the end of the August was an advantage to teams with the financial muscle to dip into the market at the last minute or on a whim.
The bulk of his own business was done before United kicked off at Queens Park Rangers on August 7.
“I don’t like the fact that it’s open going into the season,” Monk said. “The only advantage there is for clubs with bigger money and bigger budgets.
“That’s the advantage they’re given because they’re capable of coming in at the last minute – whatever they feel that they might need, right at the very last minute. If they have an injury on the last day or so they can come in and spend a lot of money to pluck a player out of another team. It only benefits them and it doesn’t benefit other teams who are trying to plan and work to budgets or certain restraints.
“I think all of your business should be done before the season starts. But it’s not really my argument right now.”
United’s recruitment since Monk’s appointment in June has covered almost every area of their line-up and Monk is still hopeful of securing a handful of additional deals before beginning the long run to January.
At the same time, the former Swansea City manager has been at pains to stress that surplus members of his existing squad must leave.
He has already overseen a substantial clear-out, removing Giuseppe Bellusci, Tommaso Bianchi and Casper Sloth from Elland Road, but midfielder Toumani Diagouraga has not played since QPR and Leeds are ready to listen to offers for him.
Luke Murphy, who made his first appearance of the season in Tuesday’s League Cup win over Luton Town, is interesting Sheffield United and a number of other clubs.
United were also expected to look for ways to move on goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and striker Souleymane Doukara before the end of this window but both players have been back in the fold in the past seven days. Silvestri, who was sent to train with the Under-21s in the second week of pre-season, ousted Ross Turnbull from Monk’s 18 at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday and completed 90 minutes of the League Cup win at Luton.
“I’ve said before that we do need to strengthen the squad,” said Monk, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Nottingham Forest. “Some players need to go and move on as well. I’d like to add. I think it’s important that we do. But there are things you have to bear in mind. At the moment I’m not too focused on comings and goings. Of course there needs to be some but I’m focused on the weekend.
“It’s a difficult long season and there are lot of games to play.
“We’ve got a lot of young players in the squad and it’s great to work with them but we are trying to add experience, just to help the young group. It’s important that we try and do that.
“You have to judge how you think the squad is going to be when the window closes.
“We’ve got these days to concentrate on doing that and I know the club are trying to make things happen. But my focus is on the squad I have now, getting them up to speed and improving them every day.”
With a few days of the window left, Leeds, who sold England Under-19 international Lewis Cook to Bournemouth seven weeks ago, have stuck to their promise that left-back Charlie Taylor would not follow Cook out of Elland Road.
United rejected a transfer request from Taylor before the season began, despite being aware of substantial interest in him, and insisted then that Taylor would be made to see out a contract which ends next June.
Monk is confident of avoiding the sale of Taylor, saying Leeds’ stance on the left-back was “exactly the same”.
“It’s the same as every other time we’ve answered (questions about Taylor),” Monk said. “The club have made their statement.”
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