Leeds United manager Daniel Farke has admitted that his side could do with a couple of quality additions during the January transfer window, but also stresses the importance of keeping any potential signings under wraps before they are confirmed officially by the club.
January has only seen a series of outgoings for Leeds so far, with the Whites deciding to send summer loanee Djed Spence back to parent club Tottenham, as well as the departure of centre-back Robin Koch to Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt – with the German club set to take the defender on permanently after he has spent the first half of this season with them.
The most poignant of all the departures was confirmed yesterday evening however, with club stalwart Luke Ayling – a modern legend at Elland Road – joining fellow Championship side Middlesbrough on loan until the end of the season.
All these exits have left Leeds looking light at the back, particularly in both full-back positions, with the West Yorkshire club not currently having a recognised right-back on the books. Whilst youngster Archie Gray has performed admirably in the position since the start of the season – even keeping more senior, natural full-backs Spence and Ayling out of the side – he is a midfielder by trade.
What has Farke said?
Despite previously admitting that he expects a relatively quiet January in regards to transfers, there is no doubt that recent events have changed Farke’s mind somewhat, with the German claiming in his pre-Cardiff City press conference today that “it would be great to strengthen” in certain positions of the pitch.
“I am always open about transfers and what we need in positions. We did this in the summer with Sam Byram and in the end Djed Spence. I like to be open and transparent. I am more careful in January because I know this market is difficult.
“I cannot lie we have areas with too few numbers, but I know this market is difficult because players are under contract. Players available are those who are coming from injury or not playing. Nobody is tempted to give players away who are playing regularly.
“If you want someone who has not played recently it is hard to get them going. Or, you spend crazy money and we cannot do this. I am careful to speak in public about what we do in January. We have some positions where it would be great to strengthen, but I know how difficult the market is.”
When pressed on what areas of the field that he would be interested in reinforcing Farke refused to comment, claiming that he did not wish to disrupt the mindset of any members of his current squad and make them feel unvalued.
“Players here: you cannot guarantee how a new face will make them feel. Make them feel not wanted or not valued. I do not like to speak publicly too much about what we want to do.
“If business is done, we will speak about it. We know it would be great to strength but I do not want to point out where we need to strengthen.”
Where do Leeds need to strengthen in January?
Whilst Farke himself remains tight-lipped about any potential incomings this January, and what areas of the pitch that he is interested in reinforcing, there is a widespread consensus amongst fans and pundits alike that the full-back areas of the squad is where Leeds need to target.
It was a position in which the Whites were undeniably lacking in strength even before the departures of Spence and Ayling, with the loss of these two players only underlining Leeds’ need for greater depth in these areas even more sharply.
Unless Leeds’ owners, 49ers Enterprises, are willing to gamble their promotion hopes on the skilled – yet injury-prone – figures of Sam Byram and Junior Firpo and the youthful talent of Archie Gray, it’s absolutely imperative that they strengthen in at least one – if not both – full-back areas this January.