Leeds United and Derby County shared a bit of a rivalry in the last couple of years in the Sky Bet Championship, only put to an end with Leeds’ promotion back into the Premier League at the end of 19/20.
Of course, the Rams will be hoping to join them at the top table sooner rather than later but one report has emerged at the start of this week suggesting that, before Friday’s deadline, a Derby player could make the move to the top flight before his team does and join the Whites; Louie Sibley.
According to a report from Football Insider, Leeds are working on a late deal to bring the attacking midfielder to Elland Road before the deadline at the end of the week, with the view that perhaps he could be the long-term successor for Pablo Hernandez.
Naturally, a move to Leeds would appeal. They’ve kept playing great football since promotion, scaring Liverpool and Manchester City in the process, whilst in Marcelo Bielsa they have a manager that brings the very best out of young players and has shown a willingness to get them involved in first-team matters, with a set-up at the club driven to recruit good young footballers and get them into the senior game.
It would make sense for Sibley to perhaps be interested in a move, then, but there are also reasons why he perhaps shouldn’t make the switch just now, and good ones at that.
First of all, yes, Leeds have played their youngsters under Bielsa but, in the Premier League, we’ve perhaps seen that approach scaled back slightly with some very good signings getting made.
Indeed, Leeds have seen several youngsters leave on loan this window to help their development and more could follow in the days to come; there’s a feeling at the club this is the best course of action for those youngsters that are better than u23 football but not quite ready for the Premier League.
Sibley, in truth, fits that description. He’s far too good for u23 football now but, having made only a handful of Championship appearances, it’s hard to make a case for him getting the regular minutes he’d need to keep developing at Leeds right now.
At Derby, he is a first-team regular and what shouldn’t be overlooked is the club’s own willingness to use youth at this level under a manager in Phillip Cocu that is also well versed in developing footballers.
Players like Sibley have massively bright futures ahead of them providing they keep getting good experience but there’s a good case to suggest that if he joined Leeds he’d end up out on loan in fairly short order.
It would make sense, then, to remain at a big club like Derby where things are already well-tailored and then, in the coming seasons, perhaps he’ll then end up an established Premier League footballer, and the Rams will hope to join him.