In his debut article, We All Love Leeds writer Tom Lainchbury talks about Cellino's fondness of the loan to buy transfer and contrasts this summers dealings with the last one.
Few will dispute Leeds United have had an excellent summer transfer window, arguably the best for years in fact. Uwe Rosler identified the wings as areas that needed strengthening and proceeded to do so, signing a proven Championship winger in Stuart Dallas and an exciting prospect from Holland in Jordan ‘The Wizard’ Botaka. Lee Erwin looks a capable back up too after some promising displays for the under-21 side.
Massimo Cellino also got his cheque book out to secure the signature of a young yet proven goal-scorer in Chris Wood, as well as Captain Fantastic Sol Bamba on a permanent deal who, coupled with the arrival of defensive midfielder Tom Adeyemi on loan, looks to have settled the team defensively.
Perhaps most importantly though, Leeds managed to keep hold of their prized assets, the four academy products that have settled fantastically in to the first team despite their young ages. Having Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Charlie Taylor all still at Elland Road following Tuesday’s closure of the transfer window is reason alone to be optimistic, whilst also going someway to dismiss the reputation gained over the past few years that Leeds are a selling club.
But whilst fans rejoice over the players coming in to the squad, how many look at those going out? Last year’s chaotic transfer window saw no less than 15 players join us at Elland Road, many of which came on a temporary basis with a view to a permanent transfer, as is Cellino’s preference in these matters.
Massimo’s logic behind this transfer policy sounds sensible - the Italian allegedly considers regular loan deals to be nothing more than ‘training’ another team’s player, so his insistence on having the option to make a loan deal permanent once their time is up makes sense. However no fewer than six players left us this summer after spending time ‘training’ with us.
Most notably, Cellino decided against making the loan deal for Adryan a permanent one, the Brazilian youngster being the player many fans were most excited about. The 21-year-old Brazilian arrived in Leeds from Flamengo after cutting short a loan deal at Cellino’s former club Cagliari, and having earned himself the label of ‘the new Zico’ in his homeland, was expected to light up the terraces at Elland Road.
Despite some promising displays at the start of the season, Adryan fell away from the first team, and a clamour from fans to give him a run in the team went largely ignored by Neil Redfearn. The fact that Leeds decided against taking up his £3 million permanent option was unsurprising then, but still disappointing given the potential he arrived with. Adryan has now joined French side FC Nantes, and if he can go even half-way in producing the kind of performances many at Elland Road believed the youngster to be capable of, Adryan could well be the one that got away.
Another player who has left us this summer after arriving last season with great promise is Slovenian youngster Zan Benedicic. The 19-year-old arrived from Italian giants AC Milan with a bright future expected of him, but a knee injury soon after his debut that ruled him out until the end of the season saw an end to future at Leeds.
Honourable mentions go also to Edgar Cani, Dario Del Fabro and Granddi N’Goyi, who between them made less than 10 appearances. Most of these players have faded into obscurity since returning to their parent sides or signing for teams few have ever heard of, calling Cellino’s transfer philosophy and scouting ability into question.
Whilst Cellino’s choice of loan signings in the past might be up for debate, since taking a back seat in selecting transfer targets the Italian has overseen a fantastic window this summer, with just the one ‘loan to buy’ arrival under Uwe Rosler. The squad has a much more solid feel to it and for the first time in a while, quality in depth.
We can be certain that the players in the side are fully committed to the cause since they’re at the club for the foreseeable future, and succeed or fail, we know they won’t disappear at the end of the season having utilised the facilities at Thorp Arch for a year.
By Tom Lainchbury