Leeds United have been advised to procede with caution amid growing claims they are ready to raid Aston Villa to sign a striker seen as a potential upgrade to Patrick Bamford.
The Whites are on an alarming run of form that has seen the club slide into the relegation places. They are winless in nine Premier League games, with their last victory coming against Chelsea in August. Next on the agenda is a tough-looking trip to Liverpool, who trounced them there 6-0 last season.
Indeed, such has been their struggles that the pressure is well and truly cranking up on manager Jesse Marsch. The American, though, insists he is ‘sick of losing’ after responding to suggestions he could be facing the sack.
In fairness to Marsch, Leeds have come up unfortunate in plenty of games during their wretched run. They dominated against Premier League leaders Arsenal, with Bamford missing a penalty to equalise in their 1-0 defeat. The striker also spurned a glorious chance to make it 2-0 at Crystal Palace, with the Eagles equalising soon after and then going on to win 2-1.
And Bamford was once again the guilty party, missing a gilt-edged chance to restore Leeds’ advantage in their 3-2 home loss to Fulham on Sunday.
That said, their summer signings are at least making a positive impact, though those fine margins are clearly costing Leeds dear. As such, it’s little wonder to see the Whites exploring the market for a new striker in January.
To that end, Thursday’s Euro Paper Talk claims Leeds are hot on the trail of a prolific RB Salzburg marksman.
However, there could be an answer more close to home in the shape of Ollie Watkins.
The striker finds himself at something of a career crossroads after losing his way somewhat at Aston Villa.
Leeds warned over Ollie Watkins signing
Indeed, the England striker has just two goals in 12 Premier League appearances so far this season. While he’s been a regular in the Villa side, he’s been guilty of missing a glut of chances himself.
As a result, talk of a move to Leeds United in January has resurfaced in recent weeks. The Whites were on his trail in summer 2020 upon sealing promotion to the Premier League.
However, the club opted to sign Rodrigo Moreno instead, leaving Villa free to bring in Watkins in a then club-record deal.
That said, it would still take a significant sum of money for Aston Villa to consider selling the 26-year-old.
And now journalist Pete O’Rourke has warned Leeds that signing Watkins might not automatically fix their issues in front of goal.
“He’s a different striker to Patrick Bamford,” the told Transfer Tavern. “He’s somebody who can run the channels work hard and play up there on his own as well as he has done for Aston Villa.
“Probably the worry for Leeds fans is that he’s (Ollie Watkins) maybe not prolific in front of goal.
“He gets a lot of chances but maybe doesn’t put away enough of those chances that he maybe should do.”
Villa man is not the answer
If Leeds are to find a solution in front of goal, Watkins is unlikely to be it. Instead the club are more likely to look overseas, with the club often looking to the foreign markets to strengthen their squad. As such, a move for someone like Noah Okafor appears far more likely.
Leeds do also have options in their squad, particularly their Under-21s squad. Joe Gelhardt has only had limited minutes so far this season, but already has an assist to his name. They also signed Italy striker Wilfried Gnonto over the summer and it remains surprising he is yet to make his debut for the club.
Either way, Marsch needs to find an answer to Leeds’ attacking woes soon. Supporters have long been aware that the club are lacking in attack and have been crying out for the signing of a new centre-forward.
But attracting one to a side sat in the relegation places in January is far from an easy task either. As such, the next run of games will be crucial not just for Marsch’s future, but also for Leeds’ survival prospects.
After Liverpool, the Whites have a home date with Bournemouth before a trip to Tottenham sees their Premier League season break before the World Cup.