Back in January 2019, Leeds were reportedly looking to make an ambitious move to sign Spanish winger Ibai Gomez but instead the wide man left Alaves to join Athletic Bilbao – but did he make the wrong decision?
The 29-year-old rejoined Bilbao after working under Marcelo Bielsa with the La Liga side in January, and even admitted to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo that he had rejected an offer from Leeds and a reunion with Argentine boss Bielsa.
Since then, it has been slim pickings for Gomez. The winger has managed just 22 appearances throughout 2019 for Bilbao, after joining the club on January 10 – after playing once in the calender year of 2019 prior to his Alaves exit.
Throughout those matches, Gomez has started just seven games for Bilbao. He is yet to score for the side he has since returned to Bilbao, while only laying on two assists during the second half of 2018-19. He has managed just six outings this term.
It is fair to say Gomez is struggling for game time, something which would not have happened had he accepted Leeds offer in the January window – with Bielsa’s side in desperate need for a new wide man at the mid-season point.
Leeds had Jack Harrison on loan from Manchester City, a young Jack Clarke who was going off the boil towards the end of the campaign and veteran Pablo Hernandez running out of steam. Gjanni Alioski had dropped back to left-back.
Gomez would no doubt have started most matches for Leeds in the bid to gain automatic promotion. Instead, Gomez moved to his boyhood club Bilbao – while Leeds tried to sign Dan James, a move that almost materialised but fell at the final hurdle.
Leeds failed to bring in a quality wide man and Bielsa has since described failing to sign James as the difference between finishing in the top two and third. Gomez would have had a similar impact – he could have been a hero at Elland Road.
Instead, he is warming the bench at Bilbao.