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Three Leeds United players at risk of facing the axe this summer

There will undoubtedly be a clear out at Elland Road this summer.

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

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

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.

Eunan O’Kane

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

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.

Felix Wiedwald

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

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.

I am a freelance sports journalist currently studying sports journalism at Staffordshire University with a passion for all things football. I'm a keen supporter of Liverpool Football Club, as well as my local side Forest Green Rovers. I've worked for online newspaper VAVEL UK as well as a media assistant for Chester FC in the Vanarama National League.

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Leeds United

Abel Hernandez snubbing CSKA Moscow could spell imminent arrival at Leeds

The 27-year-old has a fine goal scoring record in England.

Josh Kerr

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Abel Hernandez
Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United fans will have been delighted to learn that one of their top transfer prospects Abel Hernandez has recently snubbed CSKA Moscow, as the 27-year-old’s agent told Championat.

The Yorkshire Evening Post report that the Whites have wanted to bring in Hernandez on a free transfer, and are drawing up a contract offer in a bid to lure him away from Hull City.

The 27-year-old boast an impressive record for the Tigers since his move from Palermo back in 2014, firing 29 goals in 45 Championship starts at the KCOM stadium.

He would be the perfect replacement at Leeds for former prolific goalscorer Chris Wood, who the club have failed to replace since his move to the Premier League with Burnley last summer.

Wood won the Championship golden boot in 2017, firing 27 league goals, and the loss of their talisman resulted in United only hitting the net 59 times in the Championship this season.

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Hernandez has missed a huge chunk of the season for Hull with a knee injury, but returned for the final seven games of the season, scoring five and grabbing one assist to ensure the Tigers’ avoided the drop and finished 18th in the Championship.

The striker’s contract concludes this summer, which means that he can leave his current side as a free agent. With Leeds the front-runners to sign the Uruguayan it will surely get fans excited for the side manager Paul Heckingbottom could put together next season.

Despite him leaving Hull on a free transfer, Hernandez’s agent, Oscar Bentancourt, has put a significant price tag on the forward’s new deal, and this has caused the Urugyuan to reject an approach from Russian outfit CSKA Moscow.

It is suggested that the 27-year-old would prefer to remain in the English Football League and, if Leeds can meet his wage demands, they will have the opportunity to add a prolific scorer to their ranks.

Heckingbottom’s summer clear-out, combined with further additions, could see a more balanced Leeds, ready to launch a serious promotion charge – something the Yorkshire side have failed to do since their promotion from League One in 2010.

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Leeds United

Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom must target Adam Armstrong reunion

The England youth international worked with Leeds United’s boss at Barnsley.

Mathew Coull

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Newcastle United are said to be open to the idea of letting Adam Armstrong leave the club permanently this summer. The Chronicle report that Rafa Benitez has decided the young forward has no long-term future at the club and that a cash departure should be on the cards this summer.

It is a real blow for the attacker, a local lad who has always shown plenty of promise to become a future Newcastle starter. However, it seems he is just not considered good enough to become a starter at St James’ Park.

But his apparent availability will undoubtedly interest a number of clubs. One team that should certainly be keen on his signature is Leeds United.

(Photo credit should read KIM DOO-HO/AFP/Getty Images)

Leeds need to revamp their attacking options for next season, with a lack of a goal scoring striker a major reason behind their failings last term.

Current Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom is also a fan of the player. He signed Armstrong on loan whilst Barnsley manager. Unfortunately, he struggled for his best form when he was with the Tykes but Heckingbottom often praised his hard work and natural ability.

That is something Armstrong is certainly not short of.

When Armstrong was captaining England’s youth teams and scoring goals for fun plenty of comparisons were being made with Wayne Rooney. Their similar build and playing style certainly led to an easy resemblance.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The 21-year-old only scored six goals in 35 appearances for Barnsley in 2016-17 but he had previously netted 20 in 40 games for Coventry City. In the second half of this season, he scored nine goals and assisted two for Blackburn Rovers in their promotion push. His form saw Leeds United loanee Marcus Antonsson struggling for game time as Armstrong won the February Player of the Month in League One.

What Armstrong has is bags of pedigree and potential. The England youth international simply needs a chance to play football on a regular basis under a manager who believes in him. At Leeds, the 21-year-old would have exactly that.

His signature makes perfect sense for everyone involved.

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Leeds United

Felix Wiedwald’s misery compounded as his Werder Bremen replacement thrives

Whilst the German has flopped at Leeds United, Jiri Pavlenka has been a revelation.

Mathew Coull

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Last summer Leeds United decided they needed a new goalkeeper. In the end, they snapped up German goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen in a deal reported to be worth around £500,000 by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

In fairness, at the time it looked like an absolute bargain. The German had been in impressive form at the Weserstadion the season previous. Popular with the fans at the club, his departure was not welcomed by the supporters at the Bundesliga club.

(Photo credit should read JOERG SARBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

Wiedwald has not created a similar bond with the Leeds supporters. The German has put in a string of poor performances throughout the campaign. Eventually, he found himself dropped. First, it was Andy Lonergan who came in. When the veteran was not up to the task Wiedwald got another go. Again, he was poor, and academy ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell took over with aplomb.

The 28-year-old is now expected to move on in the summer, with a return to Germany likely to be on the cards.

However, it is unlikely he will be returning to Werder Bremen.

To compound the misery for Wiedwald, not many fans at his former club are missing him. The club snapped up Czech goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka from Slavia Prague to take his place last summer. He has since gone on to be a revelation in between the sticks for the club.

Fussball Transfers heralded him as the best goalkeeper signing in the Bundesliga last season and the Bundesliga official website has declared him the natural successor to Petr Cech for his country. The man dubbed the ‘gloved guardian angel’ by the German press has been a revelation. For many, he has been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga this season with his YouTube highlight reel a thing of beauty.

(Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Wiedwald meanwhile has his own YouTube tribute from Leeds fans, which dubs him ‘the worst professional goalkeeper in the world.’

It has been whirlwind 12 months for Wiedwald, who has gone from fan favourite at his former club to forgotten man amongst his old and new fans.

The Leeds United flop needs the right move this summer in order to get his career back on track.

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