New Leeds United signing hopeful long-awaited Elland Road move will pay off

Sean McGurk is a player Leeds United have long admired.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 11:45 am
Leeds United's Sean McGurk. Pic: LUFC

The 18-year-old finally put pen to paper on a three-year deal at Elland Road following a lengthy pursuit from Victor Orta and his scouting department.

United's sporting director first moved for the attacking midfielder's services last summer. Leeds, though, were rebuffed in their advances by Wigan Athletic.

The former FA Cup winners are currently rebuilding themselves in League One after off-field struggles which allowed the Whites to snatch Joe Gelhardt from their grasp in August.

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McGurk is another Orta and his staff have now managed to prize from the Latics hands.

United saw a second move again turned down in January during the winter window but a third move proved successful with McGurk a free agent.

Wigan accepted the compensation and Leeds finally had their man.

McGurk comes with the knowledge that he is one for the future but a glance at his stats explain why United were sold on his abilities.

He has scored 39 goals in 55 starts across Wigan's Under-18s and Under-23s side over the last two seasons.

The former Liverpool youngster also helped the Latics to back-to-back Professional Development League titles just two months ago at 18s level.

Now, though, he is looking ahead to a new chapter at Thorp Arch as he aims to adjust to life in West Yorkshire with the help of close friend Gelhardt.

“I’m over the moon the deal has finally gone through,” McGurk admitted recently.

“I can’t wait to get started and have a good beginning to pre-season.

“The football the club plays as a whole is very exciting, it’s free-flowing football and with the type of player I am, I think I will suit it well."

Leeds are currently preparing for another season of top flight football whilst at Under-23s level Mark Jackson's side are heading into the unknown.

United's development squad earned promotion to the first division of the Premier League 2 ranks last term.

Clashes against the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all await this season at the top of England's elite academy structure.

“When my friends and family found out that Leeds were interested, the first thing everybody said was how big of a club it is," he added.

"Leeds wanting to sign me is a massive honour and I can’t wait to get going. People describe me as a player who is quite exciting, I like to create goals and score goals and I think that is the strongest part of my game.

“Coming in I need to concentrate on getting fit and adapting to how the club plays and over the next couple of seasons I just want to do the best that I can.”

Wigan's academy has been decimated in recent months amid the financial woes at the DW stadium - it is a feeling Leeds know all too well.

There is no doubt United have benefited from the cheaper acquisitions of both Gelhardt and McGurk.

Wigan CEO Mal Brannigan has called the departure of no less than five of the club's top talents as a "major setback".

Academy director Gregor Rioch, though, hopes he and his staff can help things recover now that Wigan are moving in the right direction again.

“There’s always going to be some fall-out, and we’ve not quite got what we wanted for the lads who have left in terms of their development," Rioch told Wigan Today.

"It wasn’t what we expected, what we hoped for, but the target now is to go and do it again. The challenge now is to roll up our sleeves, and say ‘we’ve done it once, we can do it again’.

"And there is still a belief at this club – for the coaches to keep doing what they’re doing, and for the young lads coming through to see the progression that is possible here.

“I’m really confident and really excited about the future of the Academy, and what can be achieved.”