Leeds United look to Far East to sign off summer spending spree as Orta reveals the January window ‘leaves him cold’

Leeds Unied sporting director, Victor Orta. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds Unied sporting director, Victor Orta. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Leeds United sporting director Victor Orta expects the flood of summer signings at Elland Road to limit the need for more deals in January, despite revealing that the club have already lined up a winter arrival from the Far East.

Speaking in an online question-and-answer session with supporters, Orta said he hoped the recruitment of 16 first-team players during the recent transfer window would avoid any pressure in what he called the “difficult market” of January as Leeds and Andrea Radrizzani attempt to compete for promotion in Radrizzani’s first season as owner.

Latest Leeds signing, Pierre-Michel Lasogga.

Latest Leeds signing, Pierre-Michel Lasogga.

A loan deal for Hamburg striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga completed a long stream of additions to United’s squad on the day of the summer deadline, the 16th signing completed by Leeds.

That tally included former Juventus midfielder Ouasim Buoy, who moved immediately on loan to the Spanish second division, and ex-Liverpool trainee Madger Gomes, a 20-year-old more likely to feature for the club’s Under-23s this season.

Orta said Leeds were “close to signing a big surprise from Asia”, a move for a player which Leeds hope to finalise in the January window, but the Spaniard aims to avoid major business at the turn of the year.

“I don’t believe a lot in the January market,” Orta said. “The chance you have to sign a player in January is because perhaps the player has a problem with his team, he’s not playing, or because you have a problem in your team.

“Obviously if we need (something) in January then we are open but it’s a difficult market. I prefer to get everything done in the summer and use January for a situation we need to solve. I hope our situation with the team is good and in January we don’t need to do much movement.

“In the end, more times you overpay in the January market. I hope this January we don’t sign a lot of players because this is a good sign that our team is on a roll.”

The appointment of Orta as sporting director at Elland Road, a figure who worked previously as head of recruitment at Middlesbrough, was the first stage of Radrizzani’s move to overhaul United’s transfer strategy in the aftermath of his takeover in May.

Orta said Leeds were scouting eight “priority” countries – including England, France, Italy and Spain – while expanding their search into more minor leagues worldwide. The club took Sweden international forward Pawel Cibicki on a four-year deal from Malmo ahead of the transfer deadline.

In July, United’s reach was widened further with the appointment of Toshiya Fujita, a 45-year-old who played at international level for Japan, as their head of recruitment for Asia.

Orta said: “We are watching players around the world. We have eight countries as priorities but we have a special group of scouts who watch the leagues a little bit lower. We are close to signing a big surprise from Asia.

“We are watching a lot of players in the secondary leagues because you can bring in good talent from them.”

Orta said Leeds had been tracking Lasogga prior to their decision to sell Chris Wood to Burnley for £15m, identifying the German as potential cover for Wood.

Wood’s move to Turf Moor prompted Leeds to finalise a loan for Lasogga and also led to the signing of Holland Under-19 forward Jay-Roy Grot and 23-year-old Pawel Cibicki from Malmo.

“After the departure we decided to perhaps change the situation for Wood with three players – one more confident player like Lasogga who has played more than 150 matches in the Bundesliga and two signings, really good prospects for now and for the future,” Orta said. “This is why we signed Grot and Cibicki.

“Because (of the sale of) one player, we can sign three. I think in the end we’ve made a very good attack line.”