Leeds United are eyeing a pair of season-defining January deals, though they are losing the longer term battle to retain midfield ace Kalvin Phillips, per a report.
The Whites suffered their second successive heavy defeat when falling meekly to Arsenal on Saturday evening. Leeds United were three down at the break as the Gunners threatened to match Manchester City’s punishing seven-goal victory from last week.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side stopped the bleeding in the second half, though ultimately rounded out on the wrong side of a 4-1 defeat.
Injuries have ravaged the Leeds squad this season, and few have hurt more than the loss of Kalvin Phillips.
The England ace is the hub of Bielsa’s team and without him, Leeds have looked a light touch in the middle.
The 26-year-old is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on a hamstring injury. While that undoubtedly makes grim reading for Leeds fans, it does present an opportunity in the market.
Leeds eyeing £20m Juventus raid
Without Phillips, Leeds’ desire to land midfield reinforcements will be stronger than ever. And according to the Sun, they have fixed their gaze on Juventus’ Weston McKennie.
The American international, 23, operates primarily as a central midfielder and would command a fee in the region of £20m.
Tottenham will provide stiff competition for the Juventus star. They were confirmed to have scouted McKennie during Juventus’ clash with Genoa on December 5.
Leeds United transfer plans blown up by injuries
Leeds United have problems in midfield and are being forced to spend money in January to deal with multiple long term injury problems
The Sun describe McKennie’s ‘quality’ and ‘running power’ as ideal for Bielsa’s demands. However, a deal won’t be straightforward.
McKennie is deemed ‘keen’ to stay and fight for his place under Max Allegri. Additionally, he may not be open to leaving Turin to join a relegation scrap.
Nonetheless, Leeds are determined to try their luck, and could also target Blackburn Rovers’ Ben Brereton.
Brereton targeted amid Kalvin Phillips fears
Aside from midfield, Leeds have suffered critical injuries to almost every department of their squad. The loss of centre-forward Patrick Bamford to ankle and hamstring injuries has proved particularly costly.
Daniel James and Tyler Roberts have deputised up front. Both have given their all, but neither have enjoyed any great success.
As such, Blackburn’s Brereton is being lined up in January, according to the Sun.
The Chile international has bagged 19 goals in 23 appearances for the Championship club this season. Their interest in the 22-year-old was first reported during the summer.
Less positive news for the Whites can be found at the foot of the Sun’s article, however.
They state Leeds are ‘fighting a losing battle’ to keep Phillips beyond next summer. The England regular is wanted by both Manchester United and Liverpool.
The exact reasons why keeping Phillips beyond next summer will be difficult aren’t stated in the piece. Though suffering relegation or the potential departure of club icon Bielsa are common theories.