Leeds weighing up transfer gamble for midfielder familiar to Arsenal fans

Date published: Thursday 1st July 2021 8:57 - Steve Pearson

Kelechi Nwakali, Huesca,

A familiar face to Arsenal fans has emerged as a transfer target for Leeds and Premier League newcomers Watford, according to a report.

Leeds confounded the expectations of those that insisted Bielsa-ball could not work in the top flight. Upon their return to the Premier League, the Whites drew widespread acclaim for their fearless brand of football under the enigmatic Argentine.

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Bielsa has worked wonders with a squad he largely inherited, though key acquisitions last summer aided their cause.

Diego Llorente and Robin Koch shored up their defence when available, while Rodrigo finished the season with a sprint after initial early struggles.

Brazilian Raphinha was undoubtedly the star buy, but by all accounts, Leeds will go again 12 months on.

Options at left-back, central midfielder and in the forward lines have thus far been touted. The need at left-back could soon be even greater after Ezgjan Alioski was reportedly offered a tempting deal to sign in Turkey. As such, a deal for a Barcelona full-back is thought to be close.

But it is in central midfield where the latest news concerns. Per the Athletic, Leeds have identified Huesca playmaker Kelechi Nwakali as an option. That name might not sound familiar to many, but it should to fans of Arsenal.

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Nwakali, now 23, spent three years on Arsenal’s books between 2016-19 after impressing with Nigeria at the Under-17 World Cup.

A series of loan spells soon followed before Nwakali sealed a permanent switch to Spanish side Huesca in 2019.

Huesca unfortunately suffered relegation last term, and as such, Nwakali could be available for a knock-down price.

The Athletic note Leeds hold an ‘interest’ in him along with Watford.

Details beyond that are thin on the ground at present, and Nwakali would undoubtedly represent a huge gamble given he has never been a regular starter.

However, if there’s one manager in the game who can coax the talent out of unfancied footballers, it’s Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds ‘one step away’ from major splash

Meanwhile, reports in Sardinia are continuing to push claims that Leeds United are advancing in talks over a deal for Cagliari midfielder Nahitan Nandez.

The need to bolster their midfield is an obvious one. Stuart Dallas has impressed in that role and swept the board at their player of the season awards. However, Leeds have looked light in that area whenever talisman Kalvin Phillips has been absent.

Bielsa’s side picked up just six points up from a possible 27 in his absence in 2020/21. Reports last week stated the Whites were ready to launch a club-record bid to bring Nandez to Elland Road.

However, this claim was strongly dismissed by LeedsLive over the weekend. They stated the midfielder was not close to Leeds, nor was on the club’s wanted list.

Nonetheless, La Nouva Sardegna are convinced Nandez is on Leeds’ radar. Indeed, they claimed earlier this week that Leeds were very much in discussions over his signing. Now the same paper concurs that Leeds are ‘one step away’ from reaching an agreement on a deal.

READ MORE: Leeds make ‘approach’ for another Man City man but reporter casts doubt

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