Looking back on the business Leeds United conducted last summer makes pretty grim reading, so when you consider they went so close to promotion under Marcelo Bielsa, those already at Elland Road deserve huge credit.
Leeds brought in Patrick Bamford and Barry Douglas on permanent deals last summer, with the pair enduring injury-hit campaigns at Elland Road in the season gone by. Jack Harrison, Lewis Baker, Jamal Blackman and Izzy Brown, arriving on a season-long loans from the Premier League, joined them at Elland Road.
Recently, a Yorkshire Evening Post report has looked at those four loanees after their largely underwhelming impact at Elland Road. Leeds reportedly spent £4m, including wages, on the quartet over the course of the last 12 months.
Harrison, on loan from Manchester City, was the only regular under Bielsa, with the 22-year-old making 39 appearances, scoring four goals and registering three assists. As pointed out by the YEP, the other three on loan from Chelsea started a combined total of two games in a 48-game Championship campaign.
That £4m spending spree last summer makes grim reading when you consider that, and looking at some of the other Premier League loanees in the Championship; Harry Wilson, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Axel Tuanzebe, Harvey Barnes and Dean Henderson, Leeds really didn’t use that ‘Premier League loan’ market well enough.
There is an expectancy that Leeds will look to delve into a similar market in the coming months, with Harrison a player Bielsa wants to reunite with ahead of 2019/20.
However, who joins him from the Premier League’s elite – if that is indeed the path Leeds take – is going to be important, and Leeds know they will have to be better with the loans they opt to bring on board.
A Barnes, Abraham or Wilson would’ve made a huge difference at Elland Road last year, and they’d have probably fired the Whites to promotion. But that’s now in the past and those players don’t look likely to be taking a step back into the Championship next season.
All Leeds can do is look to better what they did last summer. Permanent signings like Bamford and Douglas will have to be made again, but it is absolutely vital that whoever joins on loan is better equipped than those that Bielsa spent £4m on last year.