Leeds United tax applied to Whites' transfer business as Victor Orta faces tough decision

Victor Orta has his work cut out this summer as Leeds United's rivals seek to benefit from the Whites' youth recruitment tactics

Leeds' Under-23 recruitment over the past couple of seasons has yielded the signings of Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Crysencio Summerville and Pascal Struijk among others.

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Several players initially signed for the development squad have gone on to make senior debuts and establish themselves as bonafide first-team players - Struijk and Gelhardt in particular.

TASK: Victor Orta is finding Under-23 recruitment more difficult this summer (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Director of football Victor Orta has been lauded by chairman Andrea Radrizzani for this approach to youth recruitment, picking up youngsters who are almost the finished article, for relatively small fees, and developing them further at Elland Road.

Lewis Bate, Leo Hjelde, Sean McGurk and Amari Miller arrived last summer for a cumulative total believed to be in the region of £4-5 million.

The signing of highly-rated England Under-20 international Bate was seen as something of a coup in English youth football circles, however Leeds are finding it difficult this summer to repeat their exploits.

Many of Leeds' Under-23 signings have been plucked from fellow British sides, capitalising on talent bottle-necks and seizing upon players who perhaps felt underappreciated elsewhere.

As a result of Leeds' successful recruitment, clubs this time around are playing hard-ball with Victor Orta, driving the price up of their talented teenagers.

When Leeds are materially interested in a player whose senior experience is little-to-none and succeed in securing his signature, they have a track record of developing that individual into a footballer capable of competing at Premier League level.

Premier League players are a rare commodity in the professional game and do not come cheaply, therefore clubs with several promising youngsters are increasingly unwilling to sell them for a cut-price fee.

This summer, the Whites have been linked with Manchester City's Romeo Lavia - a highly sought-after defensive midfielder from Belgium.

Where City previously permitted Ian Poveda a move to Elland Road for free before the end of his contract, they are unlikely to take a similar stance with Lavia.

Similarly, other Premier League clubs boasting academies brimming with talent are increasingly wiser to Leeds' methods and therefore less likely to sanction sales for low, seven-figure sums as the Whites have negotiated previously.

This may require Leeds to alter their Under-23 recruitment, focusing more of their resources on players with expiring contracts who could subsequently move to Elland Road on free transfers.

In this scenario, training compensation which rarely exceeds £1 million would be Leeds' only transfer expense.

Last summer, Leeds announced their first addition of the window with the arrival of Amari Miller for the Under-23 side on June 28, 2021.

If Leeds are to bolster the Under-23 group this summer, it is most likely to occur in July as efforts are made to supplement the first-team take priority.

Nevertheless, the speed at which Leeds recruit for the development squad this summer will be reflective of how high prices have risen for England's best teenagers.