The 16-year wait for Premier League football is close to finally coming to an end, as Leeds United sit seven points clear of third-place Fulham with just nine games to go – and Victor Orta’s planning for Premier League survival must begin now.
Five consecutive wins and no goals conceded has seen the Whites propel themselves from going dangerously close to dropping into the play-offs, to topping the Championship with just nine to play. Premier League football is on its way to Elland Road.
A number of positions need strengthening, though, if Leeds are to survive the drop. A striker still seems to be an issue for the Whites, while a permanent partner for Mateusz Klich needs to be found.
Ben White remains on loan at the club and although the Whites want to sign him from Brighton permanently, centre-backs are needed – and perhaps more than just one central defender. In recent weeks, cover for Kalvin Phillips has become important.
Leeds lack that, with White stepping into the number four role – meaning his absence leaves a gap at central defence. A tough-tacking, hard-working, technically-gifted, tempo-dictating midfielder is required. Leeds have been linked with one.
Indeed, The Daily Mail claims Leeds are rivalling Bournemouth, Norwich and West Brom for West Ham midfielder Josh Cullen. The 23-year-old is currently impressing on loan at Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic on loan.
The Hammers have activated an option to keep Cullen until 2021, but he could still be sold given he is set to enter the last 12 months of his current deal. He has been first choice for Charlton, clocking up 25 league games – missing 11 with an ankle issue.
Cullen is very hard-working and his willingness to cover every blade of grass makes him a perfect addition for Bielsa’s team. Not only can he provide cover for Phillips, but the Ireland Under-21 star can also play further ahead in midfield.
With Orta likely to start Premier League recruitment soon, signing Cullen would be an excellent start to that process.