Leeds United’s hunt for a new striker appears to have led them to Watford frontman Andre Gray. As relayed by the Daily Star, The Athletic’s David Ornstein recently suggested Leeds have enquired about a loan deal for the player and that the Hornets’ originally thorny response has now softened.
Leeds are in desperate need of striking reinforcements after Patrick Bamford’s back-up Eddie Nketiah was recalled to Arsenal by new boss Mikel Arteta.
Gray scored 23 goals in 42 appearances during his last Championship campaign with Burnley back in 2015-16. Gray’s form helped fire Burnley to promotion that season, so Leeds are right to be interested.
Such impressive form convinced Watford to sign him in 2017, for a fee reported by The Guardian to be worth £18.5 million. He has since struggled to replicate his best form at Vicarage Road and has struggled for first-team football under new Watford boss Nigel Pearson.
Leeds would be getting a proven goalscorer at this level if they could lure Gray to Elland Road and they might have an advantage in their chase for the player.
Whilst best known for representing some of Portugal’s biggest talents, Jorge Mendes is also Gray’s agent.
The Portuguese ‘super-agent’ is best known for his work with Wolves, but he also has a working relationship with Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani.
The Italian confirmed as much back in March 2018, as he discussed the Wolves-Mendes model with talkSPORT.
“So, if to facilitate the opportunity to have top, good players from top teams, like this year Wolverhampton, good for them acquire on loan with mandatory option to buy in case of promotion, players from Porto, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, I mean big European clubs and the year before some as well, like Helder Costa who they bought after one year.
“So, if that’s possible I would like to do the same because I have a relationship with Jorge Mendes, with other top agents, Mino Raiola, Stellar, I have a lot of good long-term friendships with top agents in the world so if this is okay, I would like to do the same.”
That relationship paid off in the summer, as Leeds concluded a deal to sign Helder Costa, another Mendes client. The winger arrived on loan, with a reported (Daily Mail) £15 million obligation to buy.
If Radrizzani can convince Mendes to send another of his clients to Elland Road this January, it would give Leeds a top striker who could easily fire them to the Premier League. Fans will no doubt hope that proves to be the case.