Leeds United

Leeds United

Championship

Five Championship standouts Leeds Utd should sign if promoted to the Premier League

Daniel Farke with a prominent Leeds United badge alongside him

Whisper it quietly, but Leeds appear to be heading back to the Premier League under Daniel Farke

After an impressive 3-1 win against Championship leaders Leicester City, Leeds United have closed the gap at the top to just six points and are on a nine-game winning streak.

With Leeds’ promotion push going well, it’ll be important if they do go up that they bring in the right players to help them stay up. Often the way to build a strong squad for Premier League survival is to bring in some of the best talent from the Championship for a lower fee.

Here are five of the best options for Leeds United.

Gabriel Sara – Attacking Midfielder, Norwich City

One of the positions where Leeds need to add more options is behind the striker in the most advanced midfield spot.

Often Georginio Rutter or even Joel Piroe play there as a second striker. Although this works well, sometimes at previous clubs Daniel Farke has gone for a more creative second striker who gets goals and a poacher/finisher up top.

Gabriel Sara could be a perfect advanced 8 or second striker for Leeds.

Think back to October when Leeds played Norwich and won 3-2 at Carrow Road. One player got an assist from a whipped corner into Shane Duffy and then got a goal where he received the ball surrounded by four Leeds players, kept close control, weaved in and out of them and powered a shot past Illan Meslier.

That player was Gabriel Sara.

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Sara has insane ball-striking ability. He’s a real threat shooting from distance and from free-kicks too.

For Norwich, Sara will play as one of the three midfielders in a 4-3-3 formation where’s he’ll be a key part of ball progression. But when the ball is out wide and someone cuts it back into the box, Sara comes crashing into the box to get on the end of cutbacks and finish past the keeper.

You can just imagine a cutback from Crysencio Summerville, Daniel James or Wilfried Gnonto into Sara, who smashes a shot past into the bottom corner. A deadly combination.

Since Leeds legend Pablo Hernandez left the club in 2021, the squad has lacked a player of his creativity in the #10 position – someone to link the midfield and the attack, create from deep and play in the pockets to create for the striker and wingers around him.

Gabriel Sara does exactly this for Norwich. When in deeper positions he’s a creative outlet with good ability to drive forward with the ball and play well weighted passes in behind.

His off-the-ball work rate is top tier too as Sara works hard to press, tackle and cover a lot of ground.

Another reason Sara would be good for Leeds is his versatility. The Brazilian could play behind the striker with Rutter or as a backup for Rutter and play with Piroe.

Or you could even play Sara in a deeper position of the double pivot next to a more defensive midfielder like Ethan Ampadu to be the creative midfield option.

Due to his pace, creativity and off-the-ball work rate, Sara could even play as a winger if need be.

He’s such an all-rounder and would be a valuable player in the Premier League.

Jaden Philogene – Right Winger, Hull City

Hull City winger Jaden Philogene has been seriously good this season since signing from Aston Villa in the summer.

A skilful winger with dynamism, creativity and goal-scoring ability, Philogene suits Leeds’ system really well and would be a solid option to start on the right wing, but due to his ability to play on both sides could be cover for both wings.

Philogene is an ambipedal winger. His ability on both feet to whip crosses into the box, shoot from distance and take on players makes him so unpredictable.

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There’s no ‘weak side’ to show him onto because he doesn’t have a ‘weak’ foot. He’s so capable of driving past a defender on either side. In fact, this is part of what makes him so good in 1-v-1 scenarios.

Philogene has an explosive first step and is a technical dribbler with close control. Similarly to technical dribblers such as Summerville, Gnonto and Rutter he’s difficult to get the ball off in tight areas and can take on several at once.

The English winger’s ability to shift the ball in tight spaces also allows him to create enough separation to get shots off.

Philogene’s shooting is top quality too. He can strike the ball so cleanly with a lot of power from distance off both feet, either cutting inside from the right wing onto his left foot or from the left wing onto his right foot.

Pierre Ekwah – Defensive Midfielder, Sunderland

Sunderland’s defensive midfielder Pierre Ekwah is an excellent ball winner.

He’s a first-and-second-phase specialist. Ekwah can win the ball, turn past a pressing opposing player, then spray a pass out to the wings.

Ekwah’s ability to stay deep and anticipate where the ball is going to go to win it is top quality. He’ll scan the space around him and often push up to intercept passes he sees coming. His anticipation helps him to recover any loose balls too.

When on the ball, Ewkah is so composed and turns so calmly. His press resistance makes him such a secure player, comfortable receiving the ball under pressure in a deep position on the half turn and then carrying it up the pitch.

Despite being 6’2”, Ekwah has close control and can take on players in the final third to create space.

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Ekwah is a progressive midfielder. His long rangy legs enable him to carry the ball with so much power to progress play and move the ball into more dangerous areas.

But it’s not just his carrying where he progresses play, it’s also his passing.

Ekwah’s ability to pass through the lines and play through balls is key for Sunderland, effectively playing as a deep-lying playmaker even though he’s such a good ball winner.

Ekwah has a huge physical presence in the centre of the pitch which makes him able to battle with midfielders, win aerial duels and ground duels and regain possession.

In the Premier League there’s so many physical teams with height and power. It’s important that Leeds add this to their midfield options so they can compete in the more physical games too.

Ekwah could be a depth option for Ampadu but in the more physical games, they could even play Ampadu and Ekwah together in the double pivot to win the ball and progress it to their attackers.

Nathan Wood – Centre-Back, Swansea City

Although Swansea haven’t had the best season, Nathan Wood has continued to shine.

In a possession-based team like Swansea, Wood’s on the ball security and ball playing ability is crucial to a team building up from the back.

Wood is comfortable on the ball under pressure. He can carry past defenders with ease in such a calm manner and has real power driving up the pitch. His on-the-ball security makes him press resistant and able to retain possession.

With a pass accuracy of 89.8 per cent this season and 91.5 per cent last season in the Championship, there’s more than enough proof that he’s comfortable passing out from the back.

But he’s not just playing safe sideways and backwards passes.

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He loves to spray long passes out to the wings and switch the play or to pass through the lines. This type of penetrative passing can allow possession-based teams to beat the press or the most stubborn mid-blocks.

One of Wood’s best traits is his athleticism.

Physically strong, with a great leap to win aerial duels and a fast top speed to help him defend large spaces, Wood is the exact type of centre-back teams want when playing a high line in a possession-based system because his speed and athleticism allows him to anticipate passes in behind and intercept them and catch up with quicker attackers running in behind.

Like William Saliba and Micky van de Ven at Arsenal and Tottenham respectively, Wood’s profile is very valuable for teams playing this type of style and it’s why Southampton initially bid for Wood before they ended up signing Taylor Harwood-Bellis on loan from Manchester City.

Another reason the Swansea centre-back would be great for Leeds is the fact that he’s comfortable playing both RCB and LCB.

He’s good with both feet and for Swansea he’s played at both central defensive positions in a back four or a back three, as well as at the heart of a back three.

This type of versatility makes him so good for Leeds who need depth for both Pascal Struijk and Joe Rodon (if signed permanently from Spurs in the summer).

Wood is serious competition for both of Struijk and Rodon and despite being younger than both at 21 years old, he could even start ahead of them once he’s proven himself.

Jonathan Rowe – Left Winger, Norwich City

Norwich attacker Jonathan Rowe has been on fire this season, scoring 12 goals and getting two assists in 28 games.

Rowe plays mainly on the left wing but has also played on the right wing and as an attacking midfielder behind the striker and he could be quality cover for all of these positions.

Someone this versatile allows you to cover many needs in one and he would fit in nicely alongside players like Summerville, James, Rutter and Gnonto, who all interchange positions game to game – or even during a match – which makes their attack so hard to anticipate and predict.

Rowe is a fast player who loves to run in behind, but in 1-v-1 situations is a tricky winger to tackle.

His ball manipulation and close control enables him to carry the ball for longer distances without losing it and also enter dangerous areas. In and around the box, he’s a threat and can create something out of nothing.

Rowe’s finishing ability makes him another goal threat. He’d even be good as a striker. He and Rutter interchanging together would work really well and they’d both play off each other’s movement.

As a dribbler, Rowe is highly unpredictable due to his two-way dribbling technique. Full-backs struggle to anticipate which way he’ll go. Rowe has an exceptionally quick first step to create separation from markers.

Rowe’s athletic and physical capabilities are top class too. Despite only being 5’10” he has a good leap which has enabled him to win aerial duels.

Physically strong too, Rowe is able to hold off opponents and shield the ball well whilst carrying and dribbling.

This type of physicality and defensive work rate will come in handy in the Premier League where Leeds will be up against better opposition that they’ll have to defend against for longer periods of the game.

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