17 July 2024
Official | Borussia Mönchengladbach dismiss Daniel Farke | OneFootball
Farke hit the jackpot on Leeds’ “brilliant” 6ft 1 gem, he could be better than Rodrigo – opinion

The Whites have secured a lasting new talisman…

Leeds United can place focus solely on the efforts on the pitch following a frenetic, rollercoaster of a summer transfer window.

Having seen their spot in the Premier League severed after a dismal campaign, Leeds are seeking to finish at the upper end of the Championship table this term for an instant return to the big time.

After three years in the top-flight, the Whites understandably lost a multitude of first-teamers, with no less than 15 players leaving the club before Friday’s transfer deadline.

There have been a wealth of fresh arrivals, however, with newly-appointed manager Daniel Farke now looking to craft a successful season for the distinguished west Yorkshire outfit.

Who did Leeds sign this summer?

Valencia confirm agreement with Leeds for £27m Rodrigo deal | Goal.com

There is a very different feel to this Leeds side now that the roiling waves of the summer market have calmed, with promotion specialist Farke – who has twice taken Norwich City out of the second tier – trimming the bloated squad down.

Having made nine acquisitions across the past few months, the German will be hoping for a more unified, cohesive squad than the team that has struggled for form and fluidity over the past several campaigns.

The likes of Joe Rodon, Sam Byram and Djed Spence have been signed to bolster the backline, while Karl Darlow has been landed to provide competition for the under-fire shot-stopper Illian Meslier; the versatile Ethan Ampadu, Ilia Gruev and Glen Kamara have been brought in to strengthen the midfield.

With star striker Rodrigo among the departees, Farke will have known the importance of signing a sufficient replacement, and while there was an interminable period of anxious wait for the Whites faithful, patience was rewarded with the signing of Swansea City striker Joel Piroe, worth in excess of £10m.

Is Joel Piroe a striker?

Joel Piroe: Swansea valuation, Leeds United make contact, Michael Duff on striker's future | OneFootball

According to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, Farke told the 49ers Enterprises – the club owners – that scoring at least 75 goals is paramount to the outfit’s chances of an instantaneous return to the Premier League, and a sure-fire way to achieve that is by securing the services of a clinical striker.

Piroe is the man for the job, with the Dutchman proving to be one of the Championship’s most prolific forwards across the past two campaigns, scoring 23 goals across the 2021/22 term before netting 20 last season.

There was much talk over his future with Swansea this summer, with Leeds battling against fellow relegated teams Leicester City and Southampton for his signature, with Everton also interested.

The prospect of a talismanic role under Farke’s wing was enough to convince the 24-year-old that he was best placed to make the switch to Leeds, and indeed received early affirmation that his decision was apt after netting on his debut during a thrilling 4-3 victory over Ipswich Town.

Whether Piroe finishes the term as the prolific star Farke coveted this summer remains to be seen, but the omens bode well and the Elland Road side have taken the right steps towards combatting the leave of a talisman labelled a “class above” by BBC commentator Pat Nevin last season.

Will Joel Piroe replace Rodrigo?

There is no denying that Rodrigo enjoyed a tremendous individual campaign last year, scoring 13 Premier League goals from 31 appearances, including just 23 starting displays, and it was somewhat inevitable that he would depart the club following relegation.

Signing for Qatari side Al-Rayann after his low-value £3m release clause was met, the Spaniard finished his time in England on a low, but his Elland Road exit did confirm to Farke that signing a new focal frontman would be the centre of the summer transfer plans.

Described as a “livewire” by former forward Aaron McLean, the 28-cap Spaniard ranks among the top 26% of strikers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year, as per FBref, at a scoring rate of 0.46 – meaning he found the back of the net almost once every two outings.

Impressive, right? Especially when considering that the 32-year-old played in such a weak Leeds team last term, devoid of hope, drained of confidence in the campaign’s decisive closing stage.

Losing him was a blow, but indeed an anticipated matter, and with Piroe now spearheading the seasonal assault, the 49ers might have actually landed a gem to surpass Rodrigo’s role at the club.

Hailed for his “clinical” ability by journalist Josh Bunting, the 6 foot 1 attacker ranks among the top 30% of positional peers across Men’s Next Eight divisions – below Europe’s top five leagues – for goals, the top 13% for total shots taken, the top 3% for pass completion and the top 17% for interceptions per 90.

The sharpshooter’s crisp ball-playing skills are notably important to Farke’s plans, with the 46-year-old implementing a possession-based system, crafting intricate, intelligent movements to shepherd the ball into dangerous areas.

Rodrigo, comparatively, ranks only among the top 37% of positional peers for pass completion; Farke has a plan and is looking to build his team with a clear vision, utilising Piroe’s strengths to enhance the overall cohesion and flow of his side.

Leeds have not enjoyed the flawless start to the campaign that the supporters will have so dearly craved after a miserable year in the Premier League, but such was maybe to be expected given the tumultuous nature of the club’s summer.

Like the sun at the end of a storm, the Whites now look to have shaved off the malaise and can focus on the efforts on the pitch, having discarded the discontented players dreaming of pastures new and making signings for stars eager to demonstrate their talents at a prestigious outfit targetting a return to prominence.

Piroe alone will not be the catalyst for success, but he will provide a steady goal threat and composure in attacking transitions, precise with his passing and clever with his movement, having been heralded for his “brilliant” performances on English shores by Benjamin Bloom.

Rodrigo was rightfully respected for his cutting edge in a blunt season, but the page has turned at Elland Road, and given his prowess as one of the Championship’s standout strikers, Piroe is the man to lead the line and send the devoted Leeds faithful into rapture once again.

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