Leeds United: Who Do We Think They Are?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

As the FPL Gamweek 1 deadline approaches and managers are trying to shoehorn every last iota of value out of their budgets, thoughts turn to the promoted clubs and where some extra value might be had. Unless they are already EFL devotees, most managers will not have much of an idea what to expect from new Premier League clubs beyond their players’ starting prices, so here we break down the Leeds United squad, promoted as Champions, to give you some idea what to expect if you invest in them. Each player’s stats have been scaled down to about 60-70% of what they achieved last season so that we can suggest current FPL players that may provide similar returns in either a flourishing, or a more frustrating, first season back in the top flight.

GOALKEEPERS

Ilan Meslier (£4.5m, 1.1% owned)

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If you want a Leeds goalkeeper, this is the guy. He looks as if he should probably still be in school uniform, but the French U21 international plays like a proto-Ederson. Leeds conceded only 35 goals in 46 games last season (4 in 10 with Meslier) and kept 22 clean sheets (7 in 10 with Meslier), better defensive stats than Sheffield United’s promotion squad and more akin to Wolves a couple of seasons ago. It was thought Meslier might be replaced by someone like Martinez from Arsenal, but it looks like Bielsa is going with him.

Potentially: Rui Patricio
Cautiously: Aaron Ramsdale

DEFENCE

Barry Douglas (6 starts, 9 sub, 648 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists… 16.3% owned)

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Right. So the most owned Leeds asset in FPL 48 hours before the deadline is a left back who has barely kicked a ball in 12 months and is unlikely to be changing that any time soon. Indeed, if Leeds sell anyone, Barry is probably the most likely. I get it. He’s 4.0m. You’ve heard that he’s good at set pieces. But nobody’s had much chance to see this for themselves, however, as the poor chap has spent a lot of time injured and in his absence those duties have passed to England’s Kalvin Phillips. As Barry returned to playing he managed 6 shots in total (2 on target). He looked decent when he did get game time. But I fear his ship has sailed.

Potentially: Pablo Zabaleta
Cautiously: Marcos Rojo

Stuart Dallas (45 starts, 3930 minutes, 5 Goals 3 Assists… £4.5m, 5% owned)

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76 shots. 76 (SEVENTY-SIX). A quick glance at the Prem stats shows Trent Alexander-Arnold as the leading DEF shot taker last season. With 44. Lundstram had 43. That 26 of Stuart’s 76 shots were on target and this resulted in only 5 goals tells you a lot about the promotion season. Loads of attacks against massed bodies in the box flinging themselves in front of everything. There is a standing joke amongst fans that Bielsa always finds a way to get Dallas in the team, like Paul Madeley in the Revie era. He’s often at left back, sometimes covers at right back and is not unknown in various parts of midfield. But he’s always involved. And he has a happy knack of arriving in the box just when a pull back is begging to be swept into the net. Oh, did I mention the 128 crosses? 

Potentially: Ricardo Pereira
Cautiously: Patrick van Aanholt

Luke Ayling (35 starts, 2 subs, 3176 minutes, 4 goals, 4 assists… £4.5m, 4.3% owned)

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It’s the age old debate that’s dominated FPL chatter since… about four weeks ago. Dallas or Ayling? With 8 goal involvements apiece there’s clearly arguments for either. Or even both. Ayling only had 34 shots (12 on target) but his goals tend to be very photogenic and generally involve a stirringly violent swing of his right boot from outside the area or from mid-air within it. When he’s not filling in at centre back you’ll find him charging up and down the right wing from byline to byline seeking to unleash a stinging cross or an audacious cut back. He missed a few games through light injuries and he also picked up 9 yellow cards (Dallas 7). Dallas for me, but it’s close.

Potentially: Jonny
Cautiously: Federico Fernandez

Liam Cooper (36 starts, 2 subs, 3125 minutes, 2 goals, 0 assists… £4.5m, 1% owned)

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The club captain. Will always start if fit, but tends to pick up a knock or two. Fundamentally a good old fashioned centre back, but did have 22 attempts  on goal, mostly from set-pieces, though he can occasionally be used as an auxiliary late game forward and gets the odd strike from the edge of the box.

Potentially: Jamaal Lascelles
Cautiously: James Tomkins

Ezgjan Alioski (21 starts, 18 subs, 2262 minutes, 5 goals, 3 assists… £4.5m, 0.9% owned)

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If Dallas is required elsewhere, North Macedonia’s favourite converted winger is usually the man to step in at the left back slot. He can also be deployed further forward, and in games tends to hurtle up there quite a bit anyway, especially if subbed on to take up his old station in relief of Jack Harrison. Hence the same number of goals and assists as Dallas despite much less playing time (59 shots, 16 on target). The catch, of course, is much reduced clean sheet likelihood. An intriguing investment if he gets a run of starts. And his Gazza-esque personality and boundless energy ensures watching him is rarely dull.

Potentially: Cédric Soares
Cautiously: Ahmed Elmohamady

Robin Koch (£4.5m, 0.6% owned)

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German international signed from Freiburg to replace last season’s hugely impressive ever-present Ben White. Said to be in line for a start in GW1 and likely to be tutored by Bielsa to play the same role as his predecessor who profiled for FPL purposes as…

Potentially: Çağlar Söyüncü 
Cautiously: Jan Bednarek

MIDFIELD

Kalvin Phillips (37 starts, 0 subs, 3250 minutes, 2 goals, 2 assists… £5m, 2.5% owned)

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As excellent a player as the Yorkshire Pirlo undoubtedly is, I was surprised to see him as the highest owned Leeds midfielder. The Leeds standard formation might as well read ‘4-Phillips-4-1’ because he is an automatic choice to shield the defence, sometimes even dropping into it as a third centre back. He has two types of pass: brisk tempo builders in the early stages of an attack and laser guided diagonals to switch the play. He scores once in a while thanks to free kick duties and assists occasionally because he’s on corners, but we’re not very good at them. A solid 2/3 points if he isn’t absent through minor injury or indiscipline (9 yellows, 1 red).

Potentially: Wilfred Ndidi
Cautiously: Moussa Sissoko

Pablo Hernández (27 starts, 9 subs, 2497 minutes, 9 goals, 9 assists… £6m, 2.3% owned)

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From the same Valencia origins as David Silva, ‘El Mago’ is the wizard who unlocks defences, finds just the right position and strikes with coolness and precision. The 9 sub appearances are because he was nursing a knee injury throughout the run in, but became the 45 minute ‘finisher’, not least with his vital late winner at Swansea. Essential during the club’s rise, but at 35 and with some new attackers arriving may be used more sparingly.

Potentially: Bernardo Silva
Cautiously: Leandro Trossard

Jordan Stevens (0 starts, 4 subs, 57 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists… £4.5m, 2.3% owned)

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Look, Jordan Stevens is a fine young player, but if you really must have a 4.5m Leeds midfielder, choose Ian Carlo Poveda-Ocampo (1 start, 4 subs, 127 minutes, 0 goals, 1 assist) who has started a game and seems to be ahead of Stevens.

Mateusz Klich (45 starts, 0 subs, 3798 minutes, 6 goals, 5 assists… £5.5m, 0.7% owned)

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Thus far, as ‘nailed’ as an attacker could be under Bielsa. Drives the team forward from just behind the main attackers and gets in a couple of shots per game, typically a 20 yard drive or one of his favourite left-to-right curlers towards the far top corner. Took over penalties from Bamford and scored 2/3 in the latter part of the season.

Potentially: Abdoulaye Doucouré
Cautiously: John McGinn

Jack Harrison (45 starts, 1 sub, 3794 minutes, 6 goals, 8 assists… £5.5m, 0.7% owned)

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Statistically very similar to Klich, but Harrison is an out and out left winger. Leeds attacking style is to try to overload the right with personnel to create crosses where Harrison charges to the back post, or to switch possession suddenly wide left in hopes of a one on one where he cuts into the box for a short cross or a snapshot. His first touch is immaculate. His second sometimes lets him down, but his decisions are improving all the time. Another almost certain regular and the one to choose over Klich unless you think Leeds will be showered with spot kicks.

Potentially: Nathan Redmond
Cautiously: Anwar El Ghazi

Hélder Costa (33 starts, 10 subs, 2954 minutes, 4 goals, 5 assists… £5.5m, 0.4% owned)

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The former Wolves man is more or less Jack Harrison on the right hand side. However, he is midway between Alioski and the Manchester City loanee in terms of starting likelihood and possibly under threat from summer arrivals and the quiet emergence of Poveda-Ocampo. Costa will get starts, but at exactly the same FPL price, Harrison is the safer pick.

Potentially: Theo Walcott (in a good season)
Cautiously: Theo Walcott (in a lean season)

Tyler Roberts (12 starts, 11 subs, 1090 minutes, 4 goals, 1 assist… £5m, 0.1% owned)

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Primarily used in a number 10 role just behind the striker or as a number 9 if Bamford is taken off, but regularly replaced at half-time by Pablo Hernandez during lockdown. 20 years old and should be thought of as a squad player with potential rather than a starter.

Potentially: Jeffrey Schlupp
Cautiously: Morgan Gibbs-White

FORWARDS

Patrick Bamford (43 starts, 2 subs, 3445 minutes, 16 goals, 2 assists… £5.5m, 5% owned)

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Possibly the single most talked about Leeds player in the current squad. Anyone who wants his job will have to be as tirelessly relentless in chasing down opposition defenders out of possession. For Bielsa, the fact that Bamford scores goals occasionally seems almost a happy bonus. He gets plenty of chances – 141 shots last season – but famously struggles to convert them. If there’s a goalkeeper, a post or some side netting that seems readily avoidable, Patrick has an unhappy knack of finding them. Penalties aside, Bamford scored 1 goal for every 10 shots. Eddie Nketiah in his brief loan spell scored 1 in 5, but wasn’t yet adept at the Bamford Blockade, so largely remained on the bench. Has our new Spanish international been bought to replace him or assist him? Time will tell.

Potentially: Neil Maupay
Cautiously: Oli McBurnie

Rodrigo (£6m, 8% owned)

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The club’s record signing (at time of publishing) and Spain’s number 9 against Germany where he nodded the assist for their equaliser (above the new centre back…) . You don’t spend north of £30m on a player unless you intend to have him in the first team. But where? Up front instead of Bamford? On the right rather than Helder Costa? Just behind in place of Roberts or Hernandez? A left footed straight swap for Harrison? Rodrigo is capable of all these and Bielsa is capable of using him as an attacking Dallas – always in the team, but moved as needs and tactics require. Last season at Valencia he got 4 goals and 7 assists, a profile that does not readily fit players designated in FPL as ‘strikers’. So, for a comparison, we need to look to the netherworld of the midfielder/forward and to the recently departed ranks of Watford…

Potentially: Gerard Deulofeu
Cautiously: Ismaïla Sarr

Article written by @statto99

Content credits:

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http://www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk

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