Neil Redfearn said the permanent signing of Sol Bamba should be a “no-brainer” in the summer after the centre-back turned in another big performance in Leeds United’s win at Middlesbrough.
Redfearn watched Bamba shine again and then described the Ivory Coast defender as a player who “most sides would be looking to keep in their back four.” Bamba has proved the most telling of United’s three January signings, joining on loan from Italian club Palermo and helping to shore up a defence which struggled badly during the first half of the Championship season.
Leeds have taken nine points from four games and conceded only twice with Bamba in their defence and he captained the club again at The Riverside with Liam Cooper on the bench.
Boro, who started the day as league leaders, produced 27 shots on goal, leading United goalkeeper Marco Silvestri to earn the man-of-the-match award at full-time, but Bamba drew admiring comments from his head coach as United held on to protect a third-minute goal from Alex Mowatt.
“He’s been a great signing,” Redfearn said. “He gives you presence in the defence and the times he stepped in, pinched the ball and settled things down with a pass, showing composure, was really impressive.”
Bamba is a month into his half-season loan at Elland Road but United’s deal with Palermo – a side he has played for only once since joining them on a three-year deal last August – includes a clause allowing Leeds to sign him on a full-time basis when this season ends.
The former Leicester City centre-back, 30, admitted last month that he has little expectation of returning to Palermo and said he and his family were keen to have the security of a long-term deal at Elland Road.
Asked if he wanted Bamba to remain at Leeds beyond this season, Redfearn said: “It’s a no brainer. If you’ve got somebody with that experience who’s this good, giving you physical presence at the back, he’s a player who most sides would be looking to keep in their back four.”
Cooper – a mainstay in United’s line-up for a many weeks under Redfearn – was named as a substitute on Saturday after returning from a hip injury.
He will be recalled to the starting line-up at Brighton tomorrow night, however, after Giuseppe Bellusci received his 10th yellow card of the season, earning the Italian an automatic two-game ban. Cooper replaced Bellusci in the closing stages at The Riverside with Bellusci suffering from cramp and Redfearn said: “It’s a good thing he got on and got 10 minutes, just to give him a bit of a blow before the game at Brighton.
“Giuseppe did well again, though.
“Coops comes in now and he’s got to take his chance. He’ll pick the reins up.”