With Kemar Roofe leaving Leeds United to join Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht, the Yorkshire side look thin on goal-scorers. Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts are the only senior strikers remaining after Roofe departs.
Breaking Down Leeds’ Attacking Options
United Thin On Attacking Options Ahead Of Roofe’s Departure
Leeds boss Bielsa all but confirmed Roofe’s departure from Elland Road this summer.
The 26-year-old was Leeds’ top-scorer last term, contributing 15 goals from 33 appearances. Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, Whites boss Bielsa said: “I can’t be happy if Roofe leaves.
“If I tell you this when he scored 15 goals last season, I would be stupid.”
The Argentine added: “We have to adapt if it finally happens.”
Roofe missed out on Leeds’ Championship curtain-raiser at Bristol City due to an ankle injury. The 26-year-old’s disappearance from the starting eleven meant Patrick Bamford entered the fold for the impressive 3-1 victory at Ashton Gate.
However, if Roofe completes a proposed summer move to Anderlecht, Bielsa will be left with just two senior attacking options at his disposal.
The Whites scored 73 goals last year (fifth best in Championship); can Bamford and Roberts alone improve upon this haul to return to the promised land? We assess the attacking options at Leeds, which could make or break their promotion campaign.
Patrick Bamford: Plagued By Injury
Bamford arrived to much fanfare for £7 million last summer, the most Leeds had spent on a single player since Robbie Fowler. Yet, after ten goals in 25 appearances last season, there remain doubts over his competence to lead the line at Leeds. This and his four months out through injury do not fill Leeds fans with confidence. However, seven of those 25 appearances did come from the bench, so Bamford could yet thrive as the main man.
His goal at Ashton Gate on Sunday got him off to a good start, but he faces a long nine months with the pressure of goals currently on his shoulders.
Tyler Roberts: Unproven
Tyler Roberts is another man whose development has been slightly curtailed by injuries. He started the season as a striker, enjoying a spell there in the first team before being dropped.
Towards the end of the season, he was used more often as a winger or a number ten. Should Bielsa need it, though, he could slot comfortably into a more central position. However, Roberts has never been prolific in his fledgeling career; nine goals in two loans at League One level and just three goals in the second division does not cover him in glory.
However, with youth on his side, 2019/20 could be a crucial year for Roberts’ development in the Leeds first team. The first step is recovering from the injury that kept him out of pre-season.
Ryan Edmondson: A Youthful Gamble
Edmondson represents more of a dark horse to boost Leeds’ attacking options.
At just 18, he is far from the finished article, but he has enjoyed a successful pre-season; he netted a hat-trick against Tadcaster Albion in a 5-1 win. There were calls for Bielsa to call upon him during Patrick Bamford’s poor spell towards the end of last season. Yet, he remained on the fringes of the first team, waiting for his chance.
Now, after a fruitful summer, this season could be his chance. Edmondson’s physicality could prove many Championship defences problems this year, and his dribbling ability underlies his physical stature. He scored 18 goals at under-23 level last season, and could be ready for the step-up.
A New Face: Dwight Gayle, Eddie Nketiah or Ryan Kent?
With the funds they will receive from Roofe’s sale, Leeds are likely to reinvest in improving their attacking options before Thursday’s deadline. Many players are being touted, but three in particular stand out, Ryan Kent, Dwight Gayle and Eddie Nketiah.
Ryan Kent enjoyed a successful season on loan at Rangers last season, scoring six goals and creating ten assists in 43 appearances. He is primarily a winger, able to operate on both flanks. Bielsa also sees him as capable of working in a more central position, as a second striker.
He would perhaps not be so much the goal-scorer, but more a compliment to Patrick Bamford. With Liverpool seemingly keen not to keep the young front-man, Bielsa may be able to sway him to Elland Road for a cheap fee.
Dwight Gayle is a player who guarantees goals at this level; he scored 46 goals in two seasons in the Championship with Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion. He would also work well with Bielsa’s style of play as a player who presses from the front. If Leeds could convince Steve Bruce to part with the player, and beat the likes of West Brom and Stoke City to his signature, it would be a real coup, and would take them a step closer to the Premier League.
Eddie Nketiah is a player only recently linked with Leeds, but could also be worth the gamble. The 20-year-old Arsenal striker has enjoyed a brilliant pre-season with the Gunners, but looks set for a loan move. Leeds are reportedly amongst the front-runners to sign him, competing with many Championship clubs and some even in Europe. His energy and pace could be a valuable asset to Leeds’ front-line.
for all the interest in Nketiah (and there's been plenty, domestically and from Germany), @TheAthleticUK being told that Leeds are one of a small number of clubs who are being seriously considered as loan destinations for him. Good chance if Leeds decide to go that way. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) August 6, 2019
Whether it be one of the players already at the club, or one of these players whom Leeds are tracking, Leeds need someone to score goals, now more than ever. Even if Patrick Bamford improves on last year’s return, they need some contingency plan. Bamford is a confidence-player, and the pressure of being the main forward could be to his detriment when he goes through a rough patch. As such, Leeds desperately need someone else to replace Roofe’s goals and presence, if they are to go one better than last season.