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Championship

Victor Orta’s transfer policy blamed, but Leeds United’s English-based signings have fared no better

Leeds United’s recruitment has been criticised this season.

Mathew Nash

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One man who has received plenty of stick recently from Leeds United fans is the club’s sporting director Victor Orta. With Leeds slipping down the table and out of promotion contention, much of the attention has turned to the recruitment done by the Spaniard.  

Whilst there have been some success stories, such as Samuel Saiz, other players have been poor or inconsistent. Felix Wiedwald, Ezgjan Alioski and Laurens De Bock all stand out as players who have had poor or mixed seasons. Not only that, but Leeds fans are unhappy with his habit of filling the development squad with foreign talent rather than the first-team.

But Leeds did make some signings this summer that, on paper, looked like good Championship recruits.

of Leeds United of Middlesbrough during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Middlesbrough at Elland Road on November 19, 2017 in Leeds, England.

Matthew Pennington, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Vurnon Anita and Andy Lonergan all arrived in the summer.

Pennington, a loan signing from Everton, has some Premier League and Football League experience. Borthwick-Jackson arrived on loan from Manchester United. The left-back had previously had a spell on loan at Wolves and played in the Premier League with United. Anita arrived on a free transfer from Newcastle United, where he had won the Championship last season. Lonergan arrived with the most experience of all. A former Leeds captain, the goalie has also played with Preston, Bolton, Fulham and Wolves.

But all four of these signings, that looked like good Championship recruits with Football League experience, have flattered to deceive.

Pennington has had his good moments but injury has blighted his Elland Road stay. Borthwick-Jackson became a forgotten man at Leeds. After De Bock was signed, the 21-year-old was sent back to Old Trafford. Anita has largely been a substitute this season and has failed to cement a place in the starting XI. Lonergan was brought in for the out-of-sorts Wiedwald but struggled for form. Both goalkeepers have now dropped below youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the pecking order.

LEEDS, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 31: Sam Winall of Derby County battles for the ball with Matthew Pennington of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on October 31, 2017 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

So whilst Leeds can blame Orta for his poor foreign recruitment, it is harsh to do so with this quartet. All four seemed to be good, solid, options for Championship football. But they have simply not put in the performances expected of them.

Orta will undoubtedly take a share of the blame for Leeds’ capitulation this season. The lack of recruitment in January has proven criminal.

But at the end of the day it is the players that cross that white line. Even those that arrived from English football have simply not done enough at Elland Road this season.

Nottingham Forest

What role can Daryl Murphy play at Nottingham Forest next season?

The Nottingham Forest striker faces an interesting year at the City Ground.

Mathew Nash

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When Nottingham Forest snapped up Daryl Murphy last summer it looked like a coup for the club. Signed for a fee in the region of £2 million from Newcastle United fans were excited about the Republic of Ireland star’s arrival.

They had good reason to be excited. Murphy had just played a role in Newcastle United’s promotion to the Premier League. He had been scoring goals for fun at Ipswich Town. Murphy netted 27 goals in 2014-15 and in the previous three seasons had scored a total of 50 goals.

But last season was a struggle for the Irishman. Injury hampered his debut season at Forest. Despite scoring six goals in his first 11 games for the club, it soon turned sour.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

He scored just once more in 20 more games for Forest and featured just six times in 2018.


“It was a tough season last season for Daryl. So far he has been training really, really well and he looks confident; he looks strong – although he has always been strong.

“I was really pleased, because he is doing really well and he is a player who can help us a lot.”

– Aitor Karanka speaking in July


So does he have a future at the club?

Forest have improved their attacking options immensely this summer. The arrival of El Arbi Hillel Soudani and Lewis Grabban has added massive firepower up top. With youngster Ben Brereton also fighting for a first-team spot with Joe Lolley capable of playing up top, Murphy has a job on his hands.

At 35-years-old he may find himself happy with a bit-part impact role at the City Ground. He may have to because it does not seem he will be a starter next season.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves’ incoming recruit Joao Moutinho was once targeted as Luka Modric replacement

Wolves are set to sign the Portugal star for just £5 million.

Mathew Nash

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In many ways, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ impending deal to sign Joao Moutinho from Monaco is no surprise. The Portuguese international is a client of Jorge Mendes who has helped bring many stars to Molineux in recent months.

On the other hand, it is a massive shock. Moutinho only signed a new deal with Monaco at the end of March. Then there is the price-tag. According to Sky Sports, the deal is worth £5 million between the two clubs.

Moutinho has, in the past, been valued considerably higher.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

When Tottenham Hotspur agreed on a deal to sign him in 2012 the fee was £24 million. In the end, he decided he did not want to leave Porto that summer leaving Tottenham without a Luka Modric replacement.  

He ended up joining Monaco a year later for a similar fee and over the years has been heralded as one of European football’s more understated midfield dynamos.

Considering Everton are about to pay ten times as much to bring in Richarlison from Watford, it highlights how good a deal this is for Wolves.

Moutinho succeeds nearly everywhere he plays, even on an international level where he won Euro 2016 with his nation. But even if he doesn’t at Wolves, the price-tag is so low it was worth the risk.

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Leeds United

Leeds United round-up: Saiz wanted, Vydra and Hernandez deals rumble on, Machuca unveiled

All the latest news and gossip from Leeds United.

Mathew Nash

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Saiz-able offer

Leeds United are fending off admirers in Spanish talent Samuel Saiz. According to Fichajes, he was wanted by three La Liga clubs this summer. The talented playmaker has courted the interest of former club Huesca, Getafe and Valencia.

The latter are said to have made a bid of £8.9 million for his services, whilst Getafe have also made Leeds an offer.

However, the report claims that Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has absolutely no desire to sell the 27-year-old, who he sees as key to Leeds’ hopes this season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Demands must change

Leeds have not yet given up on signing either Matej Vydra or Abel Hernandez this summer, according to YEP journalist Phil Hay.

Leeds offered a contract to free agent Hernandez and had a £11 million bid accepted for Czech talent Vydra.

However, both could not agree on personal terms with Leeds as finances proved a major stumbling block.

Hay claims that no deal will go through unless either player drops their demands.

Machuca unveiled

Alejandro Machuca has been unveiled by his new club, after leaving Leeds on loan. The under-23 star has joined Burgos of Spain’s third-tier for the upcoming season.

The attacker was signed last July from Rayo Vallecano and played a prominent role in Carlos Corberan’s team last season.

He will now hope for regular football back in Spain.

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