While Victor Orta has won a lot of Leeds United supporters over in more recent times, there is no getting away from the fact that the ghost of signings past is yet to be fully exorcised at Elland Road.
There have been poorer pieces of business during Orta’s time at the club – Ouasim Bouy remains on the club’s books following his 2017 move – but Laurens De Bock is often held up as the poster boy for the struggles the club initially had in their attempts to strengthen the first-team squad.
As reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, De Bock arrived for £1.5 million during the latter stages of Thomas Christiansen’s tenure. He made a number of appearances in the months that followed, but has not been seen in a Leeds shirt since Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival.
Instead, he returned to Belgium to join Oostende on loan for the season last term. It seemed to be a promising spell for the left-back. And it may have left Leeds feeling optimistic that they may be able to offload him permanently.
That was not to be the case. Sunderland signed him on loan last summer. But his time at the Stadium of Light seemed reminiscent of his time with the Whites. He started brightly, but seemed to quickly fall out of favour. And he returned in January instead of seeing out the season.
His latest move saw him head to the Netherlands to link up with Alan Pardew at ADO Den Haag. The Yorkshire Evening Post suggested that the deal included an option that will allow the Eredivisie side to make the move permanent in the summer.
Unfortunately, it appears that it has not been an easy start to life in Den Haag for De Bock.
They beat RKC Waalwijk 2-0 on De Bock’s debut. But they have conceded 11 goals in the four games since, with Pardew’s men taking just one point from those fixtures.
They have now fallen five points behind 16th place PEC Zwolle – incidentally, the club who have taken Bouy on loan three times during his career – and they now face an uphill battle trying to get out of trouble.
Of course, De Bock can only shoulder so much of the blame for their recent form. But Leeds would be forgiven for fearing what relegation may mean for their chances of offloading the 27-year-old permanently this summer.
It remains to be seen what Den Haag may have to pay to keep De Bock. But going down would surely make a permanent move less likely.
De Bock has played in the Champions League and been called up to Belgium’s senior squad in the past. And there were brief glimpses of his quality before he fell out of favour with both Leeds and Sunderland.
Nevertheless, Leeds and De Bock will know that the writing has been on the wall for some time. Unfortunately for the Championship side, Den Haag’s form since his arrival may put another stumbling block in the way as the Whites look to move him off the books once and for all.