Leeds United

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Leeds, Everton chasing one of 2023’s ‘most coveted free agents’, but lethal striker deal must run Euro gauntlet first

Blackburn Rovers and Chile striker Ben Brereton Diaz

Leeds Utd and Everton have again been namechecked in the race to sign a clinical striker in 2023, but their potential free agent deals now face Champions League competition, per a report.

The Whites and Toffees each have their own respective issues at centre-forward. Leeds’ primary player in the position should be Patrick Bamford.

The 29-year-old scored 17 goals in his first full season in the Premier League. However, since then he’s notched just twice in 15 appearances amid a spate of injuries. That’s led to the likes of Rodrigo or Joe Gelhardt deputising up top.

Everton, meanwhile, sold Richarlison in the summer and are still waiting for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to return to full fitness.

Like Bamford, the England international is spending too much time in the treatment room, something that prompted a late window swoop for Neal Maupay.

With the centre-forward situations far from ideal at both clubs, links with Blackburn Rovers hotshot, Ben Brereton Diaz, have been frequent.

The Chile international, 23, rose to prominence last season when plundering 22 goals in the Championship. He’s operated at a goal every other game this term with seven strikes in 14 outings.

Brereton Diaz is out of contract in the summer of 2023 and will not lack for suitors. Leeds and Everton have both been named by a plethora of outlets in the past and their interest is reaffirmed by Spanish outlet Estadio Deportivo.

However, according to the publication, the Premier League suitors must run the European gauntlet first.

Can Everton, Leeds overcome UCL lure?

Brereton Diaz will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs come January 1. From Spain, Almeria, Valencia and Celta Vigo are all interested in the Rovers marksman.

However, the report notes two Champions League clubs are also keeping a close eye on Brereton Diaz – Sevilla and AC Milan.

Brereton Diaz has thus far refused to give much away on where his future will lay. However, the longer he continues to go without penning fresh terms at Ewood Park, the likelier it is he’ll be on the move.

A step up to the bright lights of the Premier League could appeal. However, both Leeds and Everton must hope an overseas club – including some who may be able to offer UCL football – don’t forge a pre-contract agreement first.

Of course, clubs could try and sign Brereton Diaz outright in a cut-price deal in January.

But with Blackburn sitting seventh in the table and harbouring ambitions of promotion, selling such an important figure mid-season would be unthinkable.

Brereton Diaz concerns come to light?

Way back in mid-August, CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs provided an update on the chances of Brereton Diaz moving in the summer.

He claimed Leeds had cooled their interest at the time, with the Rovers striker no longer a primary target.

Explaining why, Jacobs tweeted doubts have emerged over Brereton Diaz’s ability to adapt to the Premier League.

Several Premier League scouts had reportedly voiced their concerns over the striker’s hold-up play and awareness both on and off the ball.

Whether those doubts were shared by Leeds’ recruitment department wasn’t clear. However, what is clear is Brereton Diaz will score goals if given the chance.

If Leeds or Everton do pounce in 2023, they may find a few kinks in Brereton Diaz’s game need ironing out on the training field first.

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