Leeds United Q and A - ownership picture, Cody Gakpo chance, transfer issues and predicted finish

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Leeds United have emerged from the summer transfer window a different beast to the one that entered it, but it was far from plain sailing as deadline day went awry.

The Whites sit ninth in the Premier League after six games and Jesse Marsch has had plenty of evidence to back up the positivity he’s brought to the table since arriving to replace Marcelo Bielsa.

New signings Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Marc Roca have caught the eye, while Luis Sinisterra is starting to show that the goal threat he posed in Holland will follow him into the English top flight.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Marsch’s squad for the Brentford game boasted more experience on the bench than any in recent memory and senior players like Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper are on their way back from injuries to rejoint he fray.

But big questions remain, not least after that deadline day and the confusion that arose over how much Leeds were able to invest in a striker this summer.

We took 37 of your questions on all manner of Elland Road subjects, including the stadium itself and Leeds’ plans for it.

Leeds United post-transfer window Q and A

Key Events

  • Leeds made big squad changes in the transfer window
  • Deadline day was messy and dramatic
  • Jesse Marsch’s new era is well underway but inconsistency has struck
  • Big questions for the ownership

@_MattyMaguire: Do you believe Jesse is the manager that can take us to that next step?

A huge question to start with, thanks for that Matty.

I’ll begin by saying there’s a lot I like about Jesse Marsch. He took the job when he didn’t have to and risked a summer succession and the chance to build his own squad. He’s relentlessly positive and spending any time around him or watching him communicate with players and staff members tells a story. You can see why they would want to play for him.

If the next step is something more than just staying in the Premier League and achieving some form of midtable comfort then I think it’s far too early to say. I can definitely see, on the evidence of pre-season, the players brought in and the start Leeds made, how he will keep them competitive in most games and that should lend itself to a real chance of staying up.

The Brentford scoreline and performance were a timely reminder that there’s still much work to be done and that on any given day you can catch a horrible beating in the Premier League. The Nottingham Forest game will be the first that carries any significant external pressure because if they lose it, the tone of the conversation around Leeds will have changed dramatically from the Chelsea win. Marsch did say that some of the fanfare was a bit much after that victory and he has been proven correct.

The summer recruitment addressed some of the big issues with the squad but the jury is very much out on whether or not he has a strikeforce that can physically handle the workload and demands of the top flight while providing the necessary goals. If they stay out of injury trouble, they should have enough.

What would represent a step forward for Leeds would be a season that has them well clear of relegation danger by around March or April. That would allow Victor Orta to begin work in earnest on the summer 2023 recruitment and an attempt to push even higher up the table in Marsch’s second full season in charge.

We’re still very far from Andrea Radrizzani’s vision of European football coming to pass.

@ShaunCronin7: Which of the current U21 squad is the most likely to follow the Struijk, Gelhardt and Greenwood route this season? Have any of them caught Jesse Marsch’s eye since the start of the season?

Mateo Joseph, pictured in training with the first team this week, is an obvious answer because of the goals he has scored, how sharp he has looked and where he plays. Leeds are, thanks to that crazy final 24 hours of the transfer window, light in attack and so Marsch will be keeping an especially close eye on his Under 21 goalscorers. Whether or not he’s physically capable of withstanding the pressure and intensity top flight defenders bring to duels remains to be seen.

Sonny Perkins is another who falls into that category. You can see why Craig Dean was so keen to get the ex-West Ham United prospect through the door this summer. He’s impressively strong for his age and has scored in every game.

Archie Gray is a long-term prospect but one who has already tasted senior involvement in training, in pre-season and on matchdays. A recent virus hampered his start to the season but expect him to pop up at some stage.

And Leo Hjelde appears very close to it right now. He was last season too but he’s yet to enjoy the same level of involvement that Gelhardt has had. The Norwegian has looked solid for the vast majority of his first team appearances.

@PrSchadenfreude: 1. Are Leeds still open to signing a left-back on a free transfer or are they going to wait until January to strengthen there? 2. Given Rodrigo's recent injury, will the club wait on handing him a new deal? He's started the season well and his current one runs out in 2024. Or are the plans to move on from him once his contract expires?

1: I would be stunned if they dipped into the free agent market for any signing. It just doesn’t feel like the kind of thing Leeds do. They had quite specific plans going into the summer transfer window, for each position, and had there been someone available on a free it would have happened long before now. If you’re fishing in that pond it suggests something has likely gone awry and while I believe they are a little light in that position, Marsch and Orta are content with what they have at left-back, in Junior Firpo, Pascal Struijk and Leo Hjelde. Struijk’s start to the season in that role has threatened to change my mind but we’ll see if he can sustain it, or if Firpo comes straight back in.

2: Rodrigo will be 33 by the time his contract runs out at Elland Road. Given his issues with niggles and the fact that his first two seasons were so difficult and inconsistent, I would be surprised if there was talk of a new deal any time soon. He looks after himself as a model pro by all accounts but the intensity of Premier League football under Marcelo Bielsa and then Jesse Marsch will take a toll. He would be an expensive one to do, as well, and the wage bill at Leeds has already undergone a serious uplift in recent times.

The purple patch at the start of this season was welcome and he has clearly gone from a player who might well have been heading out the door to free up finances in the summer, to a player with fire in his belly and an important role to play. He’s just got to show he can carry it on, once he’s back fit of course.

@Liam_Crowther: 49ers - Where are they and what’s their intentions in terms of investment?

Great question. They’ve been very quiet for a while, leaving others to do the talking over the difficult last few months of last season and an important summer. We don’t know when they will attempt to press ahead with plans for a full takeover and I often wondered if last season’s near-miss with relegation would bring things to a head in the summer. Obviously that was not the case and they appear content to remain behind Andrea Radrizzani’s vision.

It’s easy to understand frustrations and concerns in some sections of the fanbase over a perceived stalemate in the boardroom. Why would a majority owner pump huge amounts of his own finance in if a sale was expected in the coming year or so, and why would a potential buyer chuck loads of cash in when they’re not the ones with the final say over how it’s spent?

Despite that, I don’t believe that the current ownership model hampered Leeds unduly in the window that has just finished because the sales of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha financed almost all of the necessary recruitment. They did need to do a striker and failed to make it happen, but Radrizzani was clearly planning to find a way to finance that or he would not have sanctioned Victor Orta’s trip to Eindhoven to try and land Cody Gakpo. Next summer, if things remain as they are in the boardroom, will be interesting because even if this season goes well you would think it will require another healthy chunk of investment in the squad.

@ellandduck: If all the Premier League managers had a Royal Rumble, who do you think would come out on top, and how would Jesse Marsch fare?

It depends who gets to enter the ring last really doesn’t it? I wouldn’t much fancy asking Patrick Vieira to make his way over the top rope, never mind trying to physically shift him. My money would be on him or Graham Potter, who somehow finds a way to mix it with heavyweights at a distinctly impressive but still very much middleweight club. He would come with a plan and the flexibility to change the plan depending on how the Rumble was progressing.

Jesse Marsch would need to bring out his touchline monster and not the nice guy we see at press conferences and around Thorp Arch, to avoid an early exit.

@samwise_09: Do you think Leeds will get Gakpo in January ?

Cody Gakpo is the kind of player who could be on the wishlist of 10 big, big clubs come January. I think it will be a huge ask and while we understand Victor Orta was not put off the idea by what happened last week, this does not have the feel of a Brenden Aaronson move. That one had an air of inevitability about it and was never really in doubt. If they want Gakpo they will face competition and, likely, an even higher transfer fee than the one they were willing to invest in the final days of the window.

Besides all that, Leeds don’t really do the January thing, or at least they haven’t. Perhaps that will change with Marsch in place but Orta has been quite clear on his preference to do his work in the summer window.

@TomMorleyJourno: Do you feel Andrea Radrizzani has the financial capability to move us forward or do you feel he’s out of his depth?

There’s no shame or insult in saying that Radrizzani’s wealth doesn’t compare to that being ploughed in at a number of clubs in the Premier League, but he more than earned his crack at life in the top flight and this season might be able to prove that you can sustain yourself by selling to buy. That was how this summer’s recruitment was financed, although it has to be said that a big investment was made in the squad in the first summer after promotion and they did spend without selling players last summer, too.

If he was out of his depth Leeds would not be in the Premier League, or performing as well as they do commercially. That said, it’s difficult to imagine Leeds getting to where he wants them - European football making its Elland Road return - without serious wads of cash being thrown at it.

@RWBielsa: My question is, what makes you really angry? Like, livid?

The Premier League anthem.

@Sub2Stormy: Was there any merit to the Che Adams rumours? Heard that one going around for a while, wondered if there was any chatter around the club.

His name came up but it was clear he was not one of their priority signings. That could be for any number of reasons, including the possibility that they knew Southampton would not part with him for less than an eyewatering sum, or that Leeds until very late on believed they could get someone higher up their list. He had, to me, the look of a sensible enough signing, if not quite as exciting as a Charles De Ketelaere.

It has to be remembered, Che Adams was a player Leeds tried very hard to sign during Bielsa’s tenure and he is someone Orta has clearly admired for some time. Some summer rumours make a lot of sense.

@BuenoBielsa: Do you ever listen to any of The Square Ball podcasts including the one with Phil Hay ?

Yes. As often as possible. Incredibly entertaining , brilliantly produced and provides a valuable insight into the temperature of the fanbase at any given point.