Leeds United have announced the loan signing of Hamburg striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga. It was important that the club signed a new striker to replace Chris Wood and they have brought one in with a good pedigree. He will take the number nine shirt and supporters will be hoping that he wears it well.
Thomas Christiansen has had a busy summer and the club have changed their recruitment policy, as they have favoured players from abroad. Lasogga is the club’s 16th signing in a summer of squad upheaval.
Who is Pierre-Michel Lasogga?
The German striker has had an interesting career to date, as he has played for three clubs since making his debut in senior football. As a young player, he had a seven-year spell at Schalke, but he never broke into the first team. Bayer Leverkusen was his first club in senior football, but he only ever played for their second team.
His first team debut came at Hertha Berlin and he managed to build a good reputation for himself there with 22 goals in 64 matches. This earned him a loan move to Hamburg and he scored 13 goals during a successful spell. He scored a Bundesliga goal every 113.2 minutes, which convinced the club to make the move permanent. Although he hasn’t been as successful since that season, he has scored another 13 league goals for the club.
What is the deal?
The Leeds United official site reports that he arrives on a season-long loan deal from Hamburg, but they don’t give any further details. Supporters will be hoping that there is an option to make the move permanent.
What will his role be at Elland Road?
The club’s decision to give him the number nine shirt speaks volumes for their faith in him. It is likely that he is given the chance to become the first-choice striker. His experience in the Bundesliga means that he has good pedigree and the club will be hoping that he can recapture his form from the 2013/14 season. There was talk of a Premier League move after that campaign, but he decided to stay at Hamburg. It will be interesting to see if he can make the adjustment to the Championship, but he is a striker with a lot of power. The physicality should suit him.
Tony Pulis promotion woes lie in the Middlesbrough engine room
Boro are in serious need of a goal scoring presence in the centre of the park.
Abject against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough’s performance in the play-offs mirrored much of their season under manager Tony Pulis.
When up against the true contenders, Boro failed to land a blow, not picking up a win in any of the league fixtures against the four teams that finished above them.
It could be viewed that a 5th place finish provides something for Pulis to build on but the fact that Boro never looked like picking up a win in any of those eight fixtures hints that something serious needs to be changed.
In order to be serious promotion contenders, Boro need to make the small step of beating the divison’s best and that small step is often the most difficult one to make.
Some surgery is required to a key area of the squad in particular – the midfield.
A common Boro failing this season was of the misfiring midfield to function against the better teams in division regardless of what combination of personnel was used.
This was illustrated again in the two play-off games against AgainstVilla as the Boro three struggled against the guile of Jack Grealish and the physicality of Mile Jedinak.
Meanwhile, against Wolverhampton Wanderers, in the 60 minutes he was on the pitch before being sent of, the Boro midfield could get nowhere near Ruben Neves.
So how has what was a strength in the promotion side under Aitor Karanka turned into something of a weakness?
Under Aitor Karanka, the midfield – usually Adam Clayton and Grant Leadbitter – were instructed to shield the defence at the cost of contributing further up the pitch.
This worked to an extent in the Championship but this negative approach was soon found out in the Premier League, were better teams could dominate a Boro midfield who dropped deep.
Changing to three in midfield and various permutations of players could not wrestle control of the midfield back from the opposition.
Upon relegation, Boro tried a different tact under both Garry Monk and Pulis of allowing the midfield some license to attack. This license was seldom used and is a long standing problem; for the past three seasons no player has scored more than five goals from midfield for the club.
|Season||Player (s)||Goals scored|
Johnny Howson often looked like he was caught in two minds between whether to defend or attack, with the paltry return of three goals reflective of that indecision.
Grant Leadbitter has been a great servant for the club but his legs are gone at this level and he commits too many fouls as a result.
Adam Clayton is a useful defensive shield but rarely plays the ball forward and suffers from nose bleeds when he gets into the final third – the box-to-box midfielder who once scored seven in a season for Huddersfield is yet to be spotted on Teesside.
Muhamed Besic did offer the perfect blend of silk and steel when he arrived on loan during the winter window but even if Everton are prepared to sell him he is unlikely to slum it in the Championship; he is too good for this level.
So what can be done to address the shot shy engine room?
Boro need to add two attributes to the middle of the park, physicality and goals.
Howson started to break into the box more regularly towards the end of the season and was rewarded with successful strikes against Millwall and Forest. Pulis must continue to give him license to break forward next season.
Another solution could be to move Stewart Downing into the middle.
Stewie lacks the legs for the left wing but could be perfect to link midfield to attack from a deeper position, something he did effectively during the early days of the last Premier League campaign, particularly with Clayton to do his tackling and Howson to do his running.
In terms of physicality, both Howson and Clayton aren’t shy when it comes to a tackle but aren’t the most physically imposing.
A midfielder that ticks the boxes Boro need is unlikely to come cheap so it is imperative that Boro make the right signing.
Someone like Mo Diame would provide both the physicality and goals needed from midfield but would he drop down a division?
Jedinak could be picked up on the cheap from cash strapped Villa but, although he ticks the physicality box, he is unlikely to score the goals.
Paddy McNair has been linked by BBC Sport from Sunderland but his job in midfield is very much skewed towards the defensive element of the game.
Such considerations show the challenge ahead if Boro are to fix the engine room and transform themselves from playoff hopefuls to promotion contenders.
£22m James Maddison deal gives Aston Villa their Jack Grealish benchmark
Tottenham hotspur are said to be keen on a move for the Aston Villa talent.
Leicester City have completed the signing of midfielder James Maddison from Norwich City. According to the Leicester Mercury, the Foxes will pay a fee of £22 million to bring the player to the King Power and fans will hope he can become a star with the club.
The news should be of interest to fans at Aston Villa. Steve Bruce’s side are currently facing financial trouble after failing to win promotion to the Premier League. Two years of big spending by Tony Xia has left them short of Financial Fair Play and big names are set to leave.
One such player is Jack Grealish. The playmaker was brilliant for the club after recovering from a hip injury last season. Seemingly grown up from the earlier controversies in his career, Grealish is interesting a number of top clubs in the Premier League.
That fee is not expected to be enough for Grealish, with different outlets reporting £30 million or £40 million being his going rate.
However, with Maddison going for £22 million, is that now the bar Spurs need to meet to get Grealish.
Both players are of a similar standard and Aston Villa can easily now ask for £22 million for the player. As for Spurs, they can now stop themselves going to far above such a price-tag, by highlighting Maddison as the going rate.
At £22 million, it would be hard for Aston Villa to reject an offer for their midfield maestro.
Leeds United round-up: Denton wanted by Cellino, Cabit wanted and Ekuban future
Cellino wants Denton
Massimo Cellino may now complete a double raid of his old cub this summer, according to reports. The controversial former Leeds chairman is now the owner of Serie B side Brescia. They are closing in on the signature of underused Swedish strike Marcus Antonsson, who is believed to be on his way out of the club.
Now, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Cellino wants 22-year-old Leeds left-back Tyler Denton at Brescia.
The deal would reportedly be a loan move, with the view to making it permanent after one season.
Denton has failed to progress into a full-time regular at Elland Road.
Force of Cabit
The Daily Mirror (liveblog, 19/06/18, 13:48) is reporting that Marcelo Bielsa has his first target as Leeds United manager. The player in question is AC Ajaccio left-back Manuel Cabit.
The 25-year-old is out of contract this summer and Leeds are said to be battling with three French sides for his signature.
Leeds need to bring in a new left-back this summer, with it a problem area throughout last season for the club.
Ekuban to go
Leeds could let Caleb Ekuban leave this summer. A report from Ghana Soccernet has confirmed the player is not in Marcelo Bielsa’s plans for next season and could be let go.
The Italian striker joined last summer from Chievo after an impressive season on loan in Albanian football.
However, he has struggled to find any form in West Yorkshire and could now depart.
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