Leeds United

Leeds United

Championship

David Ornstein reveals Leeds in ‘serious’ push to reunite Jesse Marsch with £26m attacker as January transfer gathers pace

Matheus Cunha of RB Leipzig during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between FC Zenit Saint Petersburg and RB Leipzig on November 5, 2019 at Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg

Leeds United are putting themselves firmly in the mix to sign an Atletico Madrid star amid claims the attacker is on the market for a fee of around £26m in the January transfer window.

The Whites are looking to reinforce their squad in the January window as they continue their fight for Premier League safety. The currently sit 15th in the table, with wins over Chelsea and Liverpool underlining the quality in their squad. However, they could well get dragged back into the relegation shake-up with difficult matches against Manchester City and Newcastle to follow when the season resumes.

Two positions they are looking to strengthen in come at left-back and up front. At the back, Leeds have been forced to rely on Pascal Struijk to perform as left-back cover. And while the centre-half has performed exceptionally well, Leeds do want to sign a specialist there in January.

To that end, we have taken a look at five prospective targets.

The Whites, though, also want to strengthen up front. While goals have not been in short supply, they have not been able to rely much on Patrick Bamford.

The striker rifled in 17 goals during their return to the Premier League in the 2020/21 campaign. But despite an England debut in September 2021, it’s been downhill ever since. Injuries have seriously impacted his game-time and while fitness issues continue to hinder him, he is four days away from a calendar year without a goal.

And while Rodrigo has scored an impressive nine goals in 13 games, they are seemingly on the lookout for more options.

Leeds step up Matheus Cunha interest

One name who has been linked recently is Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha.

The Brazilian was on their shopping list in summer 2021 when it became apparent he was up for sale at Hertha Berlin.

At the time, Leeds lost out to Atletico, who paid around £21.5m to bring him to the Wanda Metropolitano.

But a lack of regular football, together with a less than impressive goals tally – he is yet to score in 17 appearances this season – means Cunha is likely to be on the move again.

Wolves are reportedly in the driving seat for his signing, with new boss Julen Lopetegui making him a top target and confirming their interest in him.

However, trusted reporter David Ornstein now claims Leeds are on his trail and are looking to beat Wolves to the punch.

And they may have the edge over the Molineux men with Whites coach Marsch having worked with Cunha at RB Leipzig.

And with the transfer miss of Cody Gakpo fresh in their minds, Ornstein, writing in The Athletic, has explained why Leeds are looking to quickly tie up a move.

“There is serious interest, too, from Leeds United,” he says.

“They tried to get Cunha before he went to Atletico from Hertha Berlin in the summer of 2021 and he knows their head coach Jesse Marsch from their time together at another German club, RB Leipzig, in 2018/19.

“Having narrowly missed out on Cody Gakpo of PSV Eindhoven and the Netherlands in the summer, Leeds know how important it is to pounce before players they want in the market become out of reach for them.”

Cunha price tag comes to light

Per reports, Atletico Madrid are seeking around £26m for Cunha. He missed out on a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad, having scored just seven times in 54 games for the Spanish giants. But when you crunch the number of goals per minutes played, Cunha’s record is not actually that bad. Indeed, many of his appearances have been for a few minutes off the bench, here and there.

A deep-lying attacker, who can operate across the frontline, Leeds will hope he returns to the form he previously enjoyed at Hertha Berlin were he to sign. During his two seasons with the Bundesliga club, he scored 13 goals in 39 appearances.

And while with Leipzig, where Marsch was first-team assistant coach, Cunha netted nine times in 52 games.

However, he has failed to impress Diego Simeone since moving to the Spanish capital. And they are seemingly willing to cash in following their exit from European competition last month.

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