It was an impressive first season for Leeds United back in the Premier League, and now work is going on behind the scenes to see if the Whites can challenge even higher up the table next term. For a club that used the fewest players during the 2020-21 campaign, manager Marcelo Bielsa will be looking for reinforcements as he hopes to get Leeds challenging for European places.
A Season to Remember
Having developed an exciting brand of football to win the Championship title in the 2019-20 season, many questioned whether the attacking style would be successful in the Premier League. An entertaining 4-3 defeat against the then reigning champions Liverpool in their opening game of the season at Anfield, showed Bielsa would be sticking to his philosophy come what may.
There were criticisms of Leeds’ leaky defence at the start of the campaign, but they were without summer signings Diego Llorente and Robin Koch for large spells due to injury. The second half of the season saw the West Yorkshire outfit get up to speed, and the side produced some impressive results towards the end of the campaign.
Wins over Manchester City and Tottenham were highlights for Leeds, who are outsiders at 150/1 in the Premier League betting to win the title next season. Draws with both Liverpool and old rivals Manchester United were also positive results at Elland Road, after defeats to both sides earlier in the season. In the end, Leeds finished a commendable ninth and the target for next term will be to compete for those coveted European places.
Quality Not Quantity for Leeds
The Leeds hierarchy showed that they would not try to bulk out the squad with a host of signings, and only quality additions would be made. Brazilian winger Raphinha was a shrewd signing for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes, as he cost the Whites just £17million. Leeds did break their transfer record to land Spain international Rodrigo, who had a tricky start to life at Elland Road but impressed towards the end of the campaign.
In defence, Llorente and Koch both showed they are more than capable of playing in the physical and high-paced style of the Premier League. Director of football Victor Orta will work alongside Bielsa once again to try and bring in some uncovered gems in the summer window. With the likes of Pablo Hernandez, Gaetano Berardi and Ezgjan Alioski leaving Elland Road this summer, there are voids to fill ahead of the new campaign. Leeds will be expected to bring in at least four quality signings, as they look to build on the foundations of this season.
It’s a young and exciting squad that has been developed at Leeds, many of them are players that Bielsa was handed when he arrived at the club in 2018. It has been an intriguing journey so far for the Argentine tactician at Leeds, and the best might be yet to come.