Leeds United new faces bring consequences for familiar ones as Farke ticks surprise transfer box

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It's in with the new but not out with the old at Leeds United.

The arrivals of Joel Piroe and Djed Spence have ticked two important boxes for Daniel Farke in this transfer window. A goalscoring centre forward was at the top of just about everyone's list when the squad building conversation kicked off this summer. The Whites left it late, knowing that Piroe's contract situation would eventually bring Swansea City to the table and if there's an argument against his signing then it's yet to reveal itself.

Spence or even any right-back who signed at all, was always going to be more of a surprise because in terms of priorities or urgent need, that didn't feel so pressing. A striker, central midfielders, a 10, a left-back, an experienced goalkeeper, a right sided centre-back - these were the crucial bits of business to be done and some remain so.

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At right-back Luke Ayling and Cody Drameh appeared to represent as good a pairing as Leeds would need, given their respective experiences of Championship success.

The first sign that this was not Farke's thinking came in mid-July when there were whispers that the German wanted to go back and raid Norwich City for Max Aarons. Yes, he could have played left-back, but he's actually a right-back. Farke wanted a right-back. This week he got one, albeit on loan and with no option to make it permanent. Spence too has a promotion to the Premier League on his CV and clearly falls into the same category of sensible-looking recruitment that brought Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon and Joe Piroe to the club.

There's little doubt that this is the end of the road for Drameh at Leeds, which is a story in itself and a confusing one because regardless of that torrid 20-minute cameo at left-back at Ipswich he has the potential to earn himself one-who-got-away status.

What does Spence's arrival mean for Ayling, though, who like Drameh has a summer 2024 contract end date but is plainly going nowhere?

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What it means is the same thing that Piroe's arrival means for Bamford. It's a direct challenge, a threat to their place in the starting XI. With Bamford still out injured, Piroe is fit and in form and after such an impressive debut, a goalscoring one to boot, a starting place is his to lose. Where Bamford would once have walked back into the team the minute he was fit, he will now have to bide his time. At right-back things are different because Ayling is fit and Spence hasn't been playing this season, so it remains to be seen if the new face will supplant the more familiar one straight away.

NEW FACE - Djed Spence has joined Leeds United on loan from Tottenham Hotspur as Daniel Farke ticks a box some would not have listed as a priority. Pic: GettyNEW FACE - Djed Spence has joined Leeds United on loan from Tottenham Hotspur as Daniel Farke ticks a box some would not have listed as a priority. Pic: Getty
NEW FACE - Djed Spence has joined Leeds United on loan from Tottenham Hotspur as Daniel Farke ticks a box some would not have listed as a priority. Pic: Getty

Relief at seeing your club strengthen is a perfectly normal reaction but it is harder to understand the glee expressed in some quarters where the perception is that Leeds are moving on from promotion-winning players who could still do a good job in the second tier.

A charge previously levelled at Leeds, that sentimentality prevented them from doing the right thing in a number of positions, held a little less weight than the notion that finances were a barrier, or at least a motivation to stick with what they had - particularly in the summer of 2021. Whatever the reason, areas of the pitch went without a necessary refresh for far too long.

Leeds did eventually try to upgrade at right-back, in the form of Rasmus Kristensen, and the Dane had the look of a solid signing until he got on the pitch.

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But football's obsession with discarding a perfectly good option for a shiny new thing is not going away any time soon and it has reared its head this summer. There is a general acceptance that a new face spells doom for an older one, or at least poses awkward questions that the existing player cannot answer. Familiarity does indeed breed contempt.

Yet perhaps instead of shouting for Piroe and Spence instead of Bamford or Ayling, the magic of the word 'and' should be embraced a little more warmly. What the signing of Piroe really does is take pressure off Bamford and remove Leeds' over-reliance on the number nine. You could almost deem Bamford a luxury, allow him to fully rehabilitate, get into a condition that has eluded him too often in the past two seasons and then drip feed him back in off the bench. That's the ideal scenario for Leeds and Bamford himself, until he's fully fit and firing.

As a focal point for the attack there will be few better in the division coming into games that need changing or controlling. The prospect of Piroe and Bamford playing together is also well worth considering, with the Dutchman dropping in behind to play off and around the nine. If Piroe is your 20-goal man then Bamford could be the double figures support act. Ask the man himself and he won't settle for that because he's not the type, in fact it might fuel a burning desire to prove everyone wrong and cup his hands to his ears again, but it would be enough for Leeds.

Similarly, Ayling will be telling himself that he saw off Kristensen and Drameh so why shouldn't he see Spence off too, and that would be the perfect mindset, but regardless, the 32-year-old is a player, leader and character with a big part to play this season.

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There have been times already when Farke's young side have been naive and that's when the wily know-how of an Ayling or a Bamford or a Cooper can be invaluable. There will be games that call for Bamford holding it up and drawing a foul to kill pressure or time. Ayling turning his body to take contact and flop for a late free-kick will be as valuable late on as a Spence dribble down the flank.

Transfers write headlines in the summer and they get everyone all excited. It's fair to say that the proven, low-risk nature of Piroe and Spence as additions justify the hype in a way that several 2021 to 2022 transfers did not. Just don't write off the old guard yet. It takes a squad to win promotion.