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Championship

From fourth tier in Spain to Leeds United debut for 21-year-old Hugo Diaz

The 21-year-old came on as a sub against Preston North End last night.

Mathew Coull

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Leeds United
Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United were on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat last night, as Preston North End defeated them at Deepdale.

Kemar Roofe had given Leeds the lead. However, a second-half capitulation saw Paul Gallagher, Sean Maguire and Alan Browne get the goals that sealed the victory for the home side.

Leeds were also forced into drastic action regarding their defensive crisis.

With Luke Ayling, Matthew Pennington, Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi, Conor Shaughnessy and Laurens De Bock all currently missing from the action it was a makeshift back-line.

Winger Stuart Dallas started at right-back, with Vurnon Anita pulled into the cold to left-back.

Pontus Jansson, perhaps Leeds’ only real ever-present defender this season, was partnered by youngster Paudie O’Connor in only his second Leeds first-team appearance.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

So when Jansson had to go off with a head injury, it left Leeds in more trouble. The player who came on might have baffled some less knowledgeable Leeds fans.

Leeds brought in 21-year-old Spaniard Hugo Diaz to make his English league debut.

It was a surprise to see his name on the team-sheet but it is a measure of the defensive crisis at Leeds he was present.

So what do we know about Diaz?

The 21-year-old came through the youth ranks at Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, playing in their Juvenil A and Deportivo B sides – even captaining the side at times.

In the winter of 2017, he joined Tercera Division side Silva SD on loan, in the fourth tier of Spanish football. He helped the club finish ninth in their respective league.

After that, Diaz was released by Deportivo and that’s where Leeds stepped in. With a new recruitment philosophy under the director of football Victor Orta and a new under-23 coach in Carlos Corberan, both Spanish, players from Iberia were quickly on their way to West Yorkshire.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

The young Galician defender was one such player, joining Leeds in August.

His start at the club was badly disrupted by a knee injury which ruled him out of action for two months. But he soon returned to the fold and gained solid reviews for his performances with the under-23s throughout February and March.

Diaz did his best versus Preston, but it was tough against a good team at such short notice for the young Spaniard to really get into a groove. With Aston Villa coming up on Friday he might need to be called upon yet again this week.

Leeds fans will just hope he can be ready in case he gets the nod.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously at HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Derby County

Sam Winnall to Stoke looks inevitable after Gary Rowett arrival

Josh Kerr

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Sam Winnall
Photo: Getty Images

Gary Rowett’s move to Stoke City from Derby County has added further fuel to the fire regarding Sam Winnall’s future and a potential move to Staffordshire for the new season.

The two have previously been together during their time at Burton Albion, and Rowett opted to bring the 27-year-old to Pride Park on a loan deal this season.

Winnall scored four goals in 16 Championship games for Sheffield Wednesday after arriving at Hillsborough in January 2017 from local rivals Barnsley.

He was underwhelming for the Owls initially and hence the club decided to loan him to his former manager.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Nonetheless, he has enjoyed some success at Derby this season, winning the club’s Goal of the Season award for his memorable strike against Ipswich Town back in December.

Injury has restricted Winnall to just six Championship starts but despite his time spent on the sidelines, the fans have enjoyed the Englishman’s time at Pride Park and are crying out for him to stay.

Nonetheless, Rowett’s move to Stoke was the icing on the cake for Wednesday supporters and unsurprisingly talk of a switch to the Bet365 Stadium has surfaced on social media.

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Leeds United

Leeds United should bring in free agent Nick Townsend

The former Barnsley goalkeeper has worked under Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom previously.

Mathew Coull

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Leeds United are said to be in the hunt for a new goalkeeper this summer. Last summer’s recruits Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan both proved unsuccessful and could find themselves leaving this summer. The former is expected to return to Germany whilst the latter was offered to Sunderland in the winter but pulled the plug on the deal.

At the moment, youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell is the number one stopper at Leeds and he has performed valiantly since being given the role.

But new recruits are expected this summer, with the likes of Angus Gunn and David Stockdale already being mentioned.

Leeds should, however, look closer to home and bring in Nick Townsend this summer.

Many Leeds fans will now be shouting who? The 23-year-old stopper is currently a free agent, with his contract at Barnsley being terminated this summer.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

He joined Barnsley from Birmingham City in 2015 and went on to play 18 games for the club in three seasons, including some under the guidance of current Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom.

Heckingbottom was a big fan of Townsend’s, who he trusted as his main back-up stopper during his time at Oakwell. Townsend, who made the news after injuring his finger in a training ground bust-up with a team-mate earlier this year, is now on the hunt for a new challenge.

Leeds could be the perfect location. Of course, Townsend should not be considered a number one goalie. But if Leeds are to lose both Wiedwald and Lonergan this summer then they may need two new keepers in the door.

Townsend is a reliable option when called upon and one who Heckingbottom knows well and can trust.

Bringing him into the Leeds squad would be a fine piece of business as it would certainly strengthen what is a weak area of the Leeds United first-team.

It is not a deal that will blow you away, but bringing in Townsend would be a smart piece of business for Leeds United.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Giorgian de Arrascaeta signing would represent transfer of intent from Wolves

Josh Kerr

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Photo: getty Images

According to Fox Sports Brazil, Wolverhampton Wanderers are weighing up a bid for World Cup bound-midfielder Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

The Uruguay international, an attacking midfielder with 13 caps for his national side, is attracting the attention of many European sides who are hoping to lure him away from the Brazilian league ahead of the summer World Cup.

Wolves fans will be delighted to see themselves linked with another established name in world football and will look to the success of star man Ruben Neves as inspiration for the move.

The former Porto star was a revelation at Wolves this season, scoring six goals along the way, and was nominated for both the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Season in the Championship. Neves’s success will give fans every bit of hope that De Arrascaeta would have a similar fate should he sign for the high-achieving club.

The current Cruzeiro player has spent the last three seasons playing in Brazil’s top flight, making 73 appearances and scoring 16 goals, after making the move from Defensor Sporting in Uruguay.

(Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

The midfielder’s attacking flair could match that of Diego Jota, whose permanent deal from at Molineux, from Atletico Madrid, hasn’t yet been confirmed.

He would be the perfect addition for the Midlands outfit as they look to restablish themselves in England’s top-flight and ensure their continued Premier League status.

It is important that the deal gets done quickly as De Arrascaeta will soon be turning his attention to the World Cup and interest in his services is only likely to increase.

He signed a contract extension in February which runs until 2021, but the luxury of the Premier League may be enough to tempt the young Uruguayan to the Championship winners this summer.

If he signs, he would prove another useful attacking option, especially if Jota remains at the club.

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