Huddersfield Town are looking to get ahead of the game in terms of freshening up Carlos Corberan’s squad for 2021/22.
Corberan led Town to survival last term, but the second-half of the season was grim and there’s so much work to be done in the off-season.
Juninho Bacuna and Isaac Mbenza headline the players that have been rewarded new 12-month contracts, but nine senior players have been released, including Richard Stearman and Christopher Schindler.
Combining the exit of that pair with the ongoing contract talks with Richard Keogh, it’s quite clear that Huddersfield are going to be after a centre-back this summer.
Alan Nixon revealed over the weekend that Tom Lees was a player on the Huddersfield radar, with the defender set to leave Sheffield Wednesday a free agent this summer.
With that in mind, we take a look at the potential impacts on Town if the 30-year-old arrives:
End of Keogh talks
Keogh was drafted in at Huddersfield back in January following long-term injuries to Stearman and Schindler. The 34-year-old would go on to make 21 appearances for Town and play regularly alongside Naby Sarr in defence.
Having shipped on two defenders the wrong side of 30 already in Stearman and Schindler, it is impossible to see Corberan wanting to bring in two more in Keogh and Lees.
Lees is four years Keogh’s junior, so it makes sense in the long-term to go with him.
There’s the likes of Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Romoney Crichlow to consider too. They are two young centre-backs in contention to play next season, along with Sarr and whoever is signed.
You’d like to think that two centre-backs are on the agenda this summer: one of Lees’ ilk in terms of experience, but then another reliable figure, in their prime.
If those boxes are ticked, it’s hard to see where Keogh fits in, which might well bring an end to discussions around a contract extension.
Change of style
Corberan’s arrival at Huddersfield saw him look to bring a fluid style of football, which orientated from playing out from the back progressively.
Defenders with strong qualities on the ball were essential and, you feel, signing Keogh in January had that in mind given his ability to cut through the lines with his passing.
However, as results came harder to come by, Huddersfield went a little more direct, playing to a focal point in Yaya Sanogo.
Lees is far more suited to that direct approach than being asked to play progressively out of defence. He’s a lot more old school and doesn’t look comfortable when asked to do too much with the ball at his feet.
A pass success of 69.5% from 2020/21 (whoscored.com) makes fairly ordinary reading, whilst his preference of playing long balls seeing him into the top-three ranking at Wednesday, excluding goalkeepers.
If Town go with Lees, is it a clear indication of Corberan changing his style to play that little bit more direct?