Reports emerged yesterday [1 December], as per Leeds All Over, that Leeds United are weighing up loaning out young striker Joe Gelhardt in January.
This news follows Gelhardt being offered a new long-term contract by the Whites over the summer which saw him committed to the Yorkshire club until 2027.
Despite impressing with his performances in the 2021/22 season, Gelhardt has struggled to gain game time so far this term in the Premier League, having played just 291 minutes in 13 appearances for head coach Jesse Marsch’s first team.
Out of these appearances only three have seen the young Englishman featuring in the starting XI, with two of these starts coming in the EFL Cup competition.
Writing on the matter, journalist Alfie Burns said: “sources have indicated to Leeds All Over that Leeds are starting to field interest in the forward from the Championship, with plenty of clubs seeking if a loan deal will be possible in the January window.
“Although the identity of those clubs is yet to emerge, we understand that at least one club in the bottom third of the division is keen to take the 20-year-old on a temporary basis.”
The right move?
It is undeniable that Gelhardt, endearingly dubbed ‘Joffy’ by Leeds fans, produced several moments of magic at the rear-end of the 2021/22 season that proved vital contributions towards ensuring the Whites’ survival in the Premier League. Naturally, his displays of brilliance led many in the stands to actively clamour for his introduction to the field when the chips were down, and justifiably so.
It is also undeniable, however, that Joffy’s contribution to Leeds’ 2022/23 season so far has been muted at best and non-existent at worst, after it was assumed that he would be providing fierce competition for a starting spot in the side for regular first-team forwards Rodrigo and Patrick Bamford.
Considering Rodrigo’s scintillating form in the Premier League this year, having scored nine goals in 13 appearances, it is hard to blame Gelhardt for not starting matches frequently. His reduced ability to influence games from the bench like he did so importantly in the Whites’ previous season, especially with Rodrigo’s back-up Bamford seemingly perennially injured, is less forgivable.
Whilst Joffy will always be fondly remembered for his last minute winner against Norwich and that piece of skill against Brighton last season, it is becoming increasingly hard to see where he factors into Marsch’s plans this season.
A loan deal to a championship side, ideally one where he will receive regular minutes, is the right option for both Leeds as a club and Gelhardt as a player as it is only through playing regularly that the youngster will rediscover the technical prowess which once made him such an exciting prospect.