Leeds United man puts weird moment behind him to make mockery of £15m transfer discrepancy

Ever since Jack Harrison's foot-in-mouth incident in Australia the Leeds United winger has scarcely put a foot wrong.
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In one of the weirder moments of his four years at Elland Road, Harrison set hares running with a non-committal answer on his future, amid interest from Newcastle United.

"We'll see what happens," he responded, to what he has since insisted was simply a question that startled him and prompted an unintentionally ambiguous statement.

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His uncharacteristically cryptic five-word utterance startled Leeds too, who were quick to insist that there was nothing going on in the background and that the bid they had rejected from Newcastle was the only one.

The club's majority owner Andrea Radrizzani made it abundantly clear in a later interview that Harrison was going nowhere, and although even that failed to deter Newcastle from submitting a second well-below-par offer, Leeds' £35m-plus valuation has been made to look entirely reasonable by the 25-year-old's early-season form.

Harrison's performances have underlined just how vital he is to Leeds, why Eddie Howe has been so keen on adding him to the Saudi-backed project up north and why a sale at this point would simply be unconscionable.

Against Wolves on the opening day he produced a steady display, with some good service and the usual work-rate that so endeared him to Marcelo Bielsa. His persistence in the area helped force the ball to Rodrigo, who levelled the scoring before Leeds went on to win it.

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At Southampton he created four chances, won all four of his tackles and picked up another assist on another Rodrigo goal with a dangerous front-post delivery.

GOOD START - Newcastle United target Jack Harrison is creating chances, assisting goals and scored one of his own for Leeds United against Chelsea. Pic: GettyGOOD START - Newcastle United target Jack Harrison is creating chances, assisting goals and scored one of his own for Leeds United against Chelsea. Pic: Getty
GOOD START - Newcastle United target Jack Harrison is creating chances, assisting goals and scored one of his own for Leeds United against Chelsea. Pic: Getty

But against Chelsea, it was the total package - an assist, a goal, the work-rate, chance creation and the fleet-footed trickery that fans want to see from their attackers.

Last season was a strange one for everyone at Leeds and Harrison was no exception. The goals - all eight of them - didn't come until the turn of the year and all but one of them came in vital victories en route to final-day survival. When Harrison scores good things happen, at Elland Road in particular as highlighted by Opta stat man Jonny Cooper who noticed that the Whites have won 13 and drawn one at home with the winger on the scoresheet.

His goals were absolutely key so it was fitting that he was the one to hit the net and definitively preserve the club's Premier League status, in the sunshine at Brentford.

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There was, however, just one assist and while the team's general struggle to hit the net and finish chances contributed to that statistic, Harrison, like so many of his team-mates, failed to hit the heights of his stellar top flight debut season.

He created just three big chances in the league and made fewer than two per 90 minutes in the league [Sofascore].

If dribbling past opponents looked far harder in the second season, the numbers show that it was. There were times when he appeared to take too many touches or simply lost his way in a blind alley which was frustrating to watch given his incredibly nimble-footed ability.

As he showed against Chelsea on Sunday, he has the skill to dance, wiggle and shuffle his way through the eye of a needle and accomplished just that even when losing his balance right on the touchline in one second half moment that wowed Elland Road.

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His willingness to empty the tank - he hasn't had the energy to celebrate numerous goals having sprinted himself into the ground - a sweet ball-striking habit that has left Premier League goalkeepers clutching at thin air on so many occasions and his footwork in possession are arguably his greatest assets and when his confidence is up, as it surely is this season, the latter makes him a joy to watch. For Jesse Marsch, who wants his team to play in tight spaces, it makes Harrison a joy to manage.

Tension wrapped itself around Leeds United last season like a seat belt and even for a player like Harrison who takes an holistic approach to the game's mental and physical demands, the pressure visibly took a toll.

Staying up and having a positive summer has released Leeds from their harnesses and Harrison has the look of a man already benefiting. Of the 12 chances he's created in three games, three of them have been big ones and he has trebled last season's assists. He's taking on players with greater success.

It's only a start, but it's a good one. Sustaining it is another thing entirely but if he can, Gareth Southgate will be watching as closely as Howe and Leeds will steadily raise that valuation. We'll see what happens.