Title-winning Whites star urging Leeds United action on ambition as January transfer window looms

A Leeds United title-winner is urging the club to show their ambition to the club's stars and build a stronger team around the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha.

By Lee Sobot
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 5:28 pm

Tony Dorigo's strong advice comes on the eve of the January transfer window opening as fifth-bottom Leeds finally await a return to Premier League action against Sunday's visitors Burnley.

The Whites will be able to strengthen their squad from Saturday morning as New Year's Day presents the opening of the winter transfer market.

Leeds are also looking to protect what they have, the Whites aiming to tie star men Phillips and Raphinha down to longer-term deals, fresh from Illan Meslier and Patrick Bamford signing new contracts until 2026 in the summer.

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PRIZED ASSET: Leeds United's Brazilian international star winger Raphinha. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Phillips and Raphinha are naturally gaining admiring glances from some of the continent's biggest teams, Phillips having rapidly amassed 19 caps in little over a year for England and Raphinha now a regular starter for Brazil.

But former Whites left back Tony Dorigo says United's intentions in the transfer market and the future of the club's stars can work hand in hand, Dorigo drawing on his own experiences upon signing for Leeds from Chelsea back in 1991 as an example.

"With those star players it is clearly important that the club show that they value them," Dorigo told the YEP.

"It is important that the club show that they want them, that they want to keep them and more importantly that they want to build teams around them and bring other very good players in.

"When I came to Leeds United, when I was talking to Howard Wilkinson and I think Leeds finished fourth that season so I came to talk.

"I am thinking 'okay, you are going to sign me but who else are you going to sign because I think you still need one or two others' and he said 'we are going to sign two more England internationals, Steve Hodge and we need pace up top so we are going to get Rod Wallace.'

"That excited me as well, I was thinking 'oh wow we are going to have that and that and that' - and these players are the same.

"If you say in the next few years 'we are going to struggle and we are going to have no money for players' then that isn't so exciting.

"But if you say 'this is what our plans are, this is what we are trying to do and we want you to be part of that' then I think that is important as well.

"I am sure with those star players, that is exactly what the club will be saying to them and we need to follow through on that and show them."

Leeds are due to return to action after 15 days without a game on Sunday with the visit of third-bottom Burnley to Elland Road.

A small outbreak of coronavirus within the Whites squad led to both Boxing Day's clash at Liverpool and the Tuesday night hosting of Aston Villa being postponed.

The coronavirus cases together with injuries meant United did not have enough recognised first-team players to meet the Premier League requirements.

But the Whites players that tested positive for Covid will be in line to return against the Clarets who sit in the division's relegation zone and third-bottom but just five points behind fifth-bottom Leeds, and with two games in hand.

Former title-winning left back Dorigo says United's current position makes it all the more important that Leeds show their ambition when it comes to stars such as Raphinha and Phillips who turned down a move to Aston Villa when Leeds were a Championship side.

Dorigo reasoned: "It's natural that if we are even going to finish where we are going to finish where we are at the moment then if a top four club come calling it's difficult because then they have a decision to make.

"Kalvin has already made some tough decisions and stuck with Leeds United and he has got his rewards.

"He has been incredible through it and got in the England side and everything else.

"But of course these things are going to come up if you play well.

"It's a good thing but also it's a thing that the club will try and sort out as soon as they can."

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Thank you Laura Collins