LEEDS UNITED have one more day to act in the summer transfer window and former Whites forward Noel Whelan believes a new ‘20-goal’ striker is a must that should automatically top the club’s list.
FIFA’s summer window will slam shut at 11pm this evening and the removal of the autumn transfer window means clubs will then be unable to conduct regular transfer business – loans or signings – until the new year. Clubs will still be permitted to sign free agents – of which plenty are available – but Whites head coach Garry Monk knows the time to act is now.
“When that window is closed we have to be happy that we have the squad capable of being very competitive in this league,” said the head coach earlier this month.
Whelan is of the strong view that United are still particularly light in striking options with the 41-year-old arguing that at present Monk has only three genuine striker choices to go to war with.
The former Whites favourite insists he is confident that both Chris Wood and Marcus Antonsson will make their way to double-figure tallies during the current campaign, with Wood having netted three times already this term despite an inconsistent start.
Antonsson has two goals to his name so far with the duo being paired on a regular basis at present as Monk favours a 4-4-2.
But Whelan is worried about the lack of options thereafter with the United pundit believing that one of them, Kemar Roofe, is no centre-forward and more a ‘natural winger’.
With Souleymane Doukara the only other option in Monk’s squad – a striker who netted just five times last season – Whelan is urging Whites chairman Massimo Cellino to splash the cash on an established centre-foward – though Whelan admits much will likely depend on the fate of Charlie Taylor.
West Brom, Bournemouth and Liverpool are heading the interest in the 22-year-old defender who formally asked for a transfer request last month after Whites owner Massimo Cellino accused Taylor of refusing to enter into talks about a new deal.
Giving his thoughts on what United need to sign before tonight’s transfer deadline, Whelan pondered: “You’ve got to look at Charlie Taylor and will the spending of money hinge on his departure and for how much.
“And if it is, then I think we have got to think about using that wisely and positively in something that is going to change our fortunes between now and the end of the season – on someone that is going to be important to where we finish because I think we need a 20-goal goalscorer.
“I do think the two strikers will get into double figures this year – I feel positive about that – but will it be enough?
“We need another striker that is going to chip in between 10 and 20.
“I think we definitely need another striker.
“That’s the first and foremost thing I think the club need.
“We’ve got four centre-halves, we’ve got an abundance of centre midfield players and an abundance of wingers but strikers – we are struggling.
“We’ve got Souleymane Doukara on the bench and Kemar Roofe but he’s not a striker going through the middle.
“He’s got pace, yes, but we are talking about a young boy who is 23.
“He’s still getting to grips with the Championship and he’s finding it very difficult.
“He’s got to bring in the quality that everyone thought he had in pre-season against lesser clubs but now you are in big-boy territory and you are now playing against people that are bigger than you and stronger than you and just as quick as you.
“So you’ve got to figure this one out very quickly and come to terms with it and start producing the goods.”
United will now look to produce the goods today on what could be a frantic transfer deadline day – and for outs as much as ins. The need for a new striking option is obvious and the Whites have been chasing young West Ham forward Ashley Fletcher though the 20-year-old looks like being an immediate part of the London club’s plans considering his full outing against Manchester City on Sunday.
Head coach Monk is also keen to sign another midfielder, while United continue to be linked with Belgian left-back Bryan Verboom, who would likely be pursued should Taylor be sold. But Whelan is aware that a squad large on numbers will also need to be trimmed.
Midfielders Toumani Diagouraga and Luke Murphy both appear well down Monk’s pecking order based on their lack of outings this season, with Murphy apparently attracting the interest of Sheffield United. Diagouraga had previously been linked with a move to Rangers.
The future of club captain Sol Bamba is also unclear after he failed to make Saturday’s match day 18 at Nottingham Forest.
Whelan admitted: “It seems to me that there’s a lot of players surplus to requirements in Garry Monk’s eyes and we’ve got to free some of that wage up.
“Whether that be loans or permanent deals, we’ve got to get something over the line before Wednesday as we’re then freeing up some squad positions to bring in something that we really want and we are going to use.
“We seem to have a lot of players there that he’s not really wanting to be there.”