Leeds United set for unique January transfer window as two things clear
Graham Smyth analyses Leeds United's situation ahead of the January transfer window
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Leeds United will be in unfamiliar territory when the January transfer window rolls around, thanks to the work done over the summer and ever since.
For the first time in a long time the Whites are approaching the market without urgent and desperate pleas from all around them to sign players for positions crying out to be filled. For what felt like the longest time that was central midfield and there was a point when Adam Forshaw's arrival took on the feel of an historical event rather than a modern-day development.
There was the need for a left-back, too, a proper Premier League worthy left-back. And a striker. Is there ever not a need for one of those, at any club? Well, as it happens, Leeds are actually sitting quite pretty in the centre forward position right now with Georginio Rutter combining his day job of leading the line with a lucrative sideline in chance creation. Patrick Bamford, though thus-far goalless, has been Daniel Farke's go-to man to give Rutter a break late on in games. And if for whatever reason either of those two could not do the job, then Farke could always turn to the Championship's best goalscorer over the past two seasons, Joel Piroe.
Piroe is currently being employed at 10, which makes sense when you consider all the factors Farke listed so patiently and precisely not so long ago. There's little need to re-open that debate right now, on the back of six wins from seven games and with end product flowing from Farke's forward line. Rutter has three goals and five assists. Piroe has six goals and one assist. Wingers Crysencio Summerville and Daniel James have a remarkable 19 goal contributions between them.
But just like Farke's calls for his strikers to be a bit more brutal with their finishing, Leeds could yet act emphatically in January to try and finish off the promotion job. They could go and find a natural number 10, a magic man to help make chances and score goals in the event of Piroe being unavailable or having to play up top. Signings like Pablo Hernandez and Emi Buendía do not grow on trees, particularly midway through a season - although ironically it was in the month of January that Hernandez's loan became permanent - but there will be players with Championship-level talent kicking their heels at elite clubs and fancying some action in the second half of the season.
The same could be said at left-back because while Sam Byram has been outstanding as a free-agent make-shift left-back, and while Junior Firpo's return to fitness has coincided with Byram's new and hopefully minor hamstring issue, herein lies the issue. Both Byram and Firpo have had torrid times with injuries over the past few seasons and it might not always be the case that their availability dovetails as it has on this occasion. Leeds do have Leo Hjelde in reserve, but his lack of proximity to the first team this season - he hasn't made a matchday Championship squad since September 2 - suggests that he is not currently part of Farke's thinking.
If Leeds are to act in January then it feels likely to be in a temporary capacity. They have loan spots available and it would be no surprise if Grétar Steinsson and Nick Hammond, who still appears to be involved with the club amid no sign of a plan to part company, had been working on identifying potential additions to be brought in from leagues at a higher level.
Injuries could of course dictate between now and then, and there is always the potential for a spectre at the feast in the form of a sudden and difficult-to-avoid outgoing transfer situation, but the beauty of this season and how it is unfolding after some sensible summer signings and the credible work of Farke is that the needs do not present themselves as matters of urgency. They are scoring goals. They are not conceding many. They are winning games. Farke does have options in various positions and the squad depth has come in handy.
If 49ers Enterprises are as keen to get it done in one and return to the Premier League this summer, though, then why not take out a little extra insurance in January? The last two years have been dominated by actions that were not taken, either prior to or during transfer windows, and situations that club decision makers came to regret or at least rue. So much of the mess Leeds found themselves in last season and last summer was down to that. There are plenty of lessons to learn from all of that and one of them is what happens when you get the January window wrong.