Leeds United have endured a nightmare of results in recent weeks that has seen their post-Christmas form up there with the worst in the league.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side were sitting comfortably in the play-off positions before the Xmas period.
However, poor results and low morale saw the Whites slip all the way down to 13th, missing out on their top six target which Andrea Radrizzani set the club last summer.
Last week, Heckingbottom called for ‘major surgery with the minimal amount of signings’ after their final game at the weekend and this means the Leeds boss will be having a major clear out this summer.
However, the club have no senior first-teamers out of contract this summer, following Pablo Hernandez’s new deal, which means they will have to find other means to get the squad Heckingbottom desires to challenge for the play-offs next season.
The Leeds boss also reiterated that contract situations will not stop the club from offloading players in the summer who haven’t met the required standard this season.
So, which three players are most at risk of being part of the clear out process at Elland Road?
Vurnon Anita is a player Heckingbottom has tried to deploy in a number of positions, in an attempt to maximize the 29-year-old’s potential. However, it simply hasn’t worked out.
Signed on a free, Anita’s versatility and experience in the Premier League had Leeds fans particularly excited.
It appeared they had found themselves a bargain. After all, the Holland international had just gained promotion with Newcastle United the previous season.
Anita has been used at right-back for the majority of his debut season. However, he has also featured on the left side of defence and in midfield.
The Dutchman has been so exposed at the back, that even centre-half Matthew Pennington has been used as cover for the Leeds flop.
At right-back, the Whites have Gaetano Berardi, Luke Ayling and Lewie Coyle, who is due to come back from loan with Fleetwood Town.
The club is well equipped at right-back and fully stocked in midfield.
Therefore, it is difficult to see any clear future for the former Magpies star at Elland Road and a likely departure is expected.
A player whose individual errors have surely spelt the end of his career at Elland Road.
The no. 14 midfielder has been at fault for a number of goals this season and patience is wearing thin with the Leeds supporters.
Formerly of Bournemouth, O’Kane has been very much under-par this season.
His reckless headbutt at Ipswich, both goals at Sheffield United and an own goal against Reading have capped off a miserable season for the 27-year-old.
Reports from the Yorkshire Evening Post have also confirmed that O’Kane was absent from the Whites trip to Myanmar, which could mean his manager has had enough of the midfielder and transfer speculation will undoubtedly begin to unfold.
Another squad member emitted from the Myanmar trip, the 28-year-old goalkeeper has had his fair share of chances to cement his place as the Whites first choice ‘keeper.
However, despite finishing only his debut season with the club, it looks more and more likely that Wiedwald may be in the club’s clear-out plans.
Wiedwald joined Leeds last summer from Werder Bremen, but he has had a very difficult first season at the Yorkshire club. His demotion from the starting line-up in March was the second time the German has been dropped from the first-team this season.
The former German under-20’s international was thrown straight in at the deep end after being announced as Leeds’ number one at the start of the campaign. However, he made a number of errors and never really recovered from his shaky start.
It has since seen him dropped from the team and many fans are predicting he may never return to Elland Road.
Leeds United round-up: Hosseini snub, Maddison not happening and Bamford hopes
A selection of the latest news and gossip from Leeds United.
Hosseini said no
Leeds United wanted Majid Hosseini this summer, according to reports in Turkey. Gazete Damga report that Marcelo Bielsa wanted to sign the Iranian from Esteghal this summer.
However, that deal never happened. The Iranian international, who played at the World Cup this summer, snubbed Leeds as he had already made a verbal promise to Trabzonspor regarding a move to Turkey.
It is the second Iranian linked with Leeds this week, following reports Leeds are tracking Morteza Pouraliganji.
Leeds United are unlikely to go for Peterborough United playmaker Marcus Maddison this month.
The Posh midfielder has long been linked with Leeds and there have been suggestions the Whites might swoop with a loan-to-buy offer this month.
However, Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Phil Hay doubts such a move is or ever was in the pipeline.
New Leeds striker Patrick Bamford believes the ‘sky is the limit’ under the management of Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road.
The £7 million summer signing from Middlesbrough was speaking to The Yorkshire Post today about his hopes at his new club.
Bamford believes Leeds have the chance for plenty of success with their new manager.
The striker scored his first goal for the club in the League Cup win v Bolton Wanderers this week.
Leeds United must loan Yosuke Ideguchi to English club to get the best out of Japan international
The Japan international could be sent out on loan again this month.
In January, Leeds United secured the signature of Japan international Yosuke Ideguchi. The central midfielder arrived from Gamba Osaka for a reported fee in the region of £500,000. However, he did not stick around at Leeds for long.
He was sent out on loan to Cultural Leonesa in Spain. Something of a sister squad because of their links to Leeds director Ivan Bravo it was felt the Japan international was better off in Spain’s second tier.
That did not prove to be the case. Ideguchi struggled for regular football in Spain and his loan club were relegated from the second tier. It meant Ideguchi missed out on a place in the Japan squad for the World Cup this summer.
This season, it appears first-team football will again be hard to come by at Elland Road. Marcelo Bielsa has even suggested a loan deal might be in Ideguchi’s future.
But if that is the case, Leeds must keep him in England.
“We haven’t made a decision yet. By the end of August the club will take the best decision for the player.”
There will be plenty of Championship and League One teams after a player of Ideguchi’s quality before the end of the month.
The 21-year-old needs to start learning how to play the game in England. It is a tough task transitioning from football in the J-League to the Championship, but having him play in Spain again will do little to teach him the ropes.
Leeds must find a team in the UK to take Ideguchi on board. Then he will be on the track to a shot at Leeds in the near future.
Jack Grealish valuation must make Leeds United wonder about Samuel Saiz
The Leeds United playmaker has been in fine form this season.
Leeds United are through to the next round of the League Cup, after beating Championship rivals Bolton Wanderers last night. The Whites, who are thriving under new manager Marcelo Bielsa, won 2-1, with goals from new signing Patrick Bamford and Spanish magician Samuel Saiz.
The latter once again put in a fantastic performance. The Spaniard has become a cult hero at Leeds and with performances like this it is easy to see why.
Of course such form will not go unnoticed. Saiz put in excellent displays last season, before a six-game suspension for spitting threw him off kilter.
Such form saw him become the subject of transfer interest back in his homeland this summer. Fichajes reported that Valencia, Huesca and Getafe were all keen on the player. A bid of £8 million was even reported to have been made, but was swiftly rejected by the Whites.
Leeds fans will no doubt fear such interest, but will also wonder just how much he is worth. When considering Aston Villa wanted a reported £35 million for Jack Grealish, a player many Leeds fans would suggest is inferior, then £8 million does not even come close.
The real hope will be Saiz can keep up the form for an entire season. If he can do that, Leeds might be looking at promotion, which will make the thought of selling him seem ridiculous.
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