Leeds United's big transfer window rebuild is underway with move for key target at 'advanced stage'

Leeds United's rebuild is already under way with a move to sign RB Salzburg's Brenden Aaronson at an advanced stage.

By Graham Smyth
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 8:01 pm

Guaranteeing Premier League status next season has allowed the Whites to press ahead with plans to make Aaronson a £26m summer signing and the Elland Road outfit have been confident for months they will get their man. That now seems inevitable.

The midfielder was Leeds' priority target in the January transfer window but a pair of bids - £15m and then £20m - were knocked back by the Austrian side, who were eyeing a huge Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

Aaronson, a 21-year-old American international, was a player Marcelo Bielsa liked and he's well known to the Argentine's replacement, Jesse Marsch.

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Marsch was in charge at Salzburg when they signed Aaronson from MLS outfit Philadelphia, agreeing a $6m deal in October 2020 and described the youngster as a 'very aggressive' player.

"He runs all day, he's clever on the ball," said Marsch.

"He does all the things that we like in a player."

Speaking about the prospect of signing Aaronson for a second time, not long after he himself arrived at Leeds, Marsch reiterated his admiration for the New Jersey native and said Leeds' pursuit echoed the first time the pair linked up.

ADVANCED STAGE - Leeds United have been confident for months that they could sign RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson. Pic: Getty

"The whole talk with Brenden Aaronson, this happened before I came," said Marsch.

"I know Brenden, he’s an American, I’ve coached him; he’s a great player. But even when he came to Salzburg, Salzburg knew about him before I joined.”

Aaronson, who fits the mold for the narrow winger role in Marsch's set-up, a position he says gives him freedom to roam, is just part of the jigsaw for director of football Victor Orta. Leeds' squad is in need of bolstering not only in quality but in depth, having been found wanting for so much of the season and found themselves so close to relegation.

There are a number of positions in need of strengthening, including central midfield, striker and the full-back areas, where they encountered real problems this season.

Although Marsch has been impressed with Kristoffer Klaesson since he arrived, the addition of an experienced back-up goalkeeper to provide genuine competition for Illan Meslier seemed like a wise move last summer and continues to feel appropriate.

Some departures are likely, with Raphinha expected to make his move to a Champions League club and Barcelona desperate to add him, in a move that will help part-finance Leeds' recruitment drive.

Staying in the Premier League will allow Leeds to name their price for the Brazilian and it will also give them a much greater chance of agreeing a new contract with Kalvin Phillips.

Should big money offers come in for the England international from Champions League clubs however, the Whites could have a job on their hands to keep their prize asset, given his age and ambitions. There are moves that would make no sense at all for Phillips, like the so-called interest from Manchester United that has been talked about despite the Old Trafford outfit making no overtures, and others that would be hard to turn down, like if Manchester City threw their hat in the ring.

All told it will be a busy summer at Elland Road as Leeds set about avoiding another season like the one they've just endured.