17 July 2024

The state of play with Leeds United's Elland Road 50,000-capacity expansion  plans - Leeds Live

Leeds United completed the signing of Werder Bremen midfielder Ilia Gruev this week for a reported £5million fee, as the Whites finally added more strength in midfield.

Leeds’ summer transfer business peaked very late as they made most of their ambitious and important signings in the closing stages of the window.

Having landed a striker and a right-back that would be some of the best in their position in the league, Leeds added to that with the arrival of Ilia Gruev from Werder Bremen for £5million.

The Bulgaria international comes to Leeds aiming to strengthen the side’s overall quality alongside Ethan Ampadu.

Here, we look at two qualities that the midfielder will bring to Leeds’ side in the Championship…

Defensive cover

As shown by the Data MB radar graph below, Gruev is seemingly stronger in his defensive responsibilities, effective without the ball to break up play:

Clearly strong in defensive actions – such as tackling, interceptions, and blocks – the 23-year-old will add a great deal of protection to the back four when we don’t have the ball.

Ilia Gruev joins Leeds United from Werder Bremen - Leeds United

This is particular encouraging to know given how we’ve been caught out in full-back areas this season, meaning we now have someone next to Ampadu showing similar levels – as good as Archie Gray has been for us.

Gruev’s numbers here in a lower mid-table Werder Bremen side don’t scream a player that is laying off chances on a plate every 10 minutes, but he’s not in the side to do that.

A deeper-lying player, he still manages to work the ball forward often on his stronger left foot, which will complement Ampadu’s right nicely and offer us more balance.

With two players sitting in front of the back four and a superbly talented attack, there’s less pressure on the midfielders to chip in with the impressive unlocking passes constantly, but more just doing enough to give license to the attackers.

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