Leeds United are back in the big time.
The Whites played fantastically well over the last year to earn a return to England’s top flight but success in the Premier League doesn’t come easy and after a 16-year absence, the club will want to do everything in their power to ensure that it is not a short stay. That, in turn, might mean that some of the useful players involved in the promotion push might be surplus to requirements at Elland Road for the new challenge.
Leeds certainly have the foundations to achieve: a superstar coach, a huge reputation and a rocking fanbase. Survival in this division is earned however, and Leeds fans will know from their past suffering that they cannot afford to be complacent, nor lean on their historic stature.
They will need to invest money to bring in exciting new talent but also sell to help balance and freshen the squad. Let’s have a look at who could/should go.
We’ll start with an easy one. Kiko Casilla blamed his lack of English for the racial abuse directed at Charlton’s Jonathan Leko last season and denied any sort of responsibility for the incident which landed him an eight-match ban.
Leeds have not looked at all weaker in his absence as stand-in keeper Illan Meslier helped the side close out the Championship title. Selling Casilla might prove difficult because of his age and wage demands but because of his reputation as a former Real Madrid man, Leeds might still be able to ship him off to Spain.
Potential Destination: Spain
Potential Fee: £1.5m
The Macedonian is a popular figure so this thought might hurt a few Leeds fans but unfortunately, a cult hero who is vocal on social media won’t win you games in the Premier League. Sometimes unpopular decisions are a necessary sacrifice.
Bielsa likes Alioski as a player, particularly because he can play at full-back or further forward. However, playing in the top division is a step up defensively and it requires an unprecedented defensive discipline. Can Alioski cut it at this level?
That being said, he shouldn’t be short of suiters.
Potential Destination: perhaps a return to Switzerland, or the Championship
Potential Fee: £3.5m
You have to feel for Douglas who has fallen out of favour at left-back following his injury problems. He featured as a key part of Wolves’ promotion surge a few years ago but has since had very few appearances at Elland Road.
There is still hope amongst Leeds fans that a rejuvenated Douglas could succeed come the following season. But in truth it is an unnecessary risk, particularly if they do end up choosing to keep Alioski.
Potential Destination: Scotland or the Championship.
Potential Fee: £2m
Yes, he is still a Leeds player. No, he still hasn’t played at Elland Road.
In August 2017, Booy signed for a free transfer from Juventus. He was immediately loaned out to Spanish side Cultural Leonesa and has since had many subsequent loan spells, most recently to Dutch outfit PEC Zwolle for the third time in his career.
In truth, Bielsa just doesn’t fancy him and probably never will. They’ve struggled to cash in on him in the past but hopefully the situation can be resolved this summer- for both Leeds and Booy’s sake.
Potential Destination: PEC Zwolle (perhaps for the fourth time)
Potential Fee: Anything
At still such a ripe age (21), Roberts could go onto be a future attacking star at Elland Road or elsewhere.
However, with the signing of Rodrigo now confirmed and as Patrick Bamford is still likely Bielsa’s main man, surely his opportunities to start in attack will be limited next year? Why not demand a healthy fee or at the very least loan him out to someone who needs him more.
It could certainly raise a decent amount of money to be used to reinvest in the club.
Potential Destination: Lower Premier League or Championship
Potential Fee: 10m