Centre-back and midfielder the priorities at Leeds United as two summer deadlines loom

BACK FOR MORE? Everton loanee Matthew Pennington challenges Barnsley's Gary Gardner as part of his season-long loan spell at Leeds United last term.
BACK FOR MORE? Everton loanee Matthew Pennington challenges Barnsley's Gary Gardner as part of his season-long loan spell at Leeds United last term.
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LEEDS UNITED have just two more days to complete any additional new signings for the 2018-19 campaign though this summer's transfer window presents the unusual situation of two deadlines in the same month.

Whilst all Premier League and EFL clubs must complete any permanent transfers by 5pm on Thursday, August 9, clubs then have until close of business on Friday, August 31 to finalise any loan deals.

The latter deadline might well be the most applicable for United in their pursuit of cover at centre-half and it is the addition of a centre back and centre midfielder that looks most likely at Elland Road.

Leeds initially made former Swansea City centre-back Kyle Bartley one of their key targets of the summer but the 27-year-old instead signed for West Brom and United are yet to bolster their squad in that particular department.

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa was asked about his options in that area in the build up to Sunday's showdown with Stoke City and the 63-year-old insisted he had six players capable of playing in the position in Pontus Jansson, captain Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi, Luke Ayling, Conor Shaughnessy and Kalvin Phillips who Bielsa is keen on utlising in that position when required.

That said, the Argentinian admitted he would also welcome another option and Leeds were known to be in talks with Everton about a possible second loan spell for Matthew Pennington at Elland Road.

There are, though, other clubs interested in Pennington including Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers and the defender might have better chances of regular first team football elsewhere given that Jansson and Cooper are first choice at the Whites.

Leeds, meanwhile, are naturally going to be linked with loan moves for young talents plying their trade for Premier League sides and in particular Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur given Bielsa's close ties to City boss Pep Guardiola and Spurs chief Mauricio Pochettino, as well as the fact that Jamal Blackman and Lewis Baker are already at Leeds on loan from Chelsea.

That could be an avenue explored in the club's other priority at present which concerns recruiting another centre midfielder.

For all that Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips excelled against the Potters, it is a department in which United are definitely light following the sale of Ronaldo Vieira to Sampdoria.

But the sale of Vieira coincided with injury to a player who operates in the same position in Adam Forshaw who is facing up to eight weeks out with damage to ligaments in his foot.

Especially given the energetic and pressing nature of Bielsa's style of play, another option in that department looks a must with Leeds having shown interest in Brighton's Northern Ireland international midfielder Oliver Norwood and Brentford's Ryan Woods - along with practically every other club in the Championship that is. Millwall midfielder George Saville has been another name mooted.

Additionally, there are also calls from fans for United to add another back up option to their strikeforce with Man City youngster Lukas Nmecha the latest name linked with the club at the back end of last week, naturally given Bielsa's relationship with City boss Guardiola.

But Nmecha was with Aston Villa's directors for their Championship victory at Hull City on Monday night and it is understood that the pursuit of a centre-back and a midfielder are United's main priorities.

And then there's the 'outs' with the strong possibility of further departures from Elland Road with Eunan O'Kane, Caleb Ekuban, Vurnon Anita, Ouasim Bouy and Yosuke Ideguchi all without squad numbers and seemingly surplus to requirements.

Bielsa was asked about Japan international Ideguchi in the aftermath of Sunday's win against Stoke.

"I don’t know if he will stay with us or not," he said.

"He’s not a second option in any position of our team so it wouldn’t be fair for me to say I want him to stay because I couldn’t offer him the time as a player he deserves.”

O'Kane is attracting the interest of Lee Bowyer's League One outfit Charlton Athletic and Leeds will look to find both Ekuban and O'Kane new clubs before the passing of the summer deadline(s) - of which there are two to bear in mind this summer.

Possible ins

Matthew Pennington (Everton, loan) or other centre-back

Centre midfielder

Possible outs

Eunan O'Kane (Charlton Athletic)

Caleb Ekuban

Vurnon Anita

Yosuke Ideguchi

Ouasim Bouy


Thursday, August 9 (5pm) for permanent deals

Friday, August 31 for loan deals