With talk that Marcelo Bielsa will be staying for the 2021-22 season, Leeds United can finally get planning for an ambitious summer. Various names are being mentioned as players Leeds could buy, including most strongly the Dutch winger Noa Lang. However, there are various discussions around squad size. While fans want to see more squad depth, Bielsa has made clear in the past that he would rather run with a smaller squad and supplement squad places when needed with academy talent.
This leaves some intriguing conversations around what comes next for Leeds in the summertime. With various names linked, it is important that fans realise that to Bielsa a large squad is simply a headache. A summer like last year, where the squad was elevated, is unlikely. Instead, it is likely to be an injection of two or three high quality talents that make the grade.
Entering the league, there were concerns from fans about many of the major contributors to Leeds and their success. Chief among the worries for fans was Stuart Dallas. The utility man was seen as a solid Championship performer, but perhaps lacking the quality or the durability in the eyes of some to be a Premier League player. However, having played various roles from left-back to central midfield, Dallas has been absolutely essential to a great first year back in the top-flight.
So much so that it is being reported that Victor Orta and co. might look to make some smart choices in the summer regarding new signings. While Romain Perraud was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season, some believe that the performance of Dallas – and others – might see some other transfer plans shelved in a bid to retain the unique squad harmony.
The chase for a left-side full-back
Many assumed that with Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas leaving, and Leif Davis failing to break through, that a new full-back would arrive alongside Perraud. However, reports suggest that Orta will instead look to use a mixture of Perraud – if the deal is complete – and Dallas as the left full-back cover. With some new signings arriving, Dallas might move down to be the first man off the bench in a range of positions.
For now, though, such is his impressive form that a move for two left full-backs now looks very unlikely. Instead, it might be a move for one top-rated full-back and then using intelligent utility men like Dallas as cover for the rest of the positions being discussed.
Whatever happens, though, Leeds fans have been shown that the grit paired with quality that Dallas showed in the second tier can easily translate to top flight performances. While the season started with Dallas rated as one of the first to get ‘found out’ at the Premier League level, instead the Northern Irishman has become a mainstay. His hard work, tactical acumen and his ability to play without ego makes him the ideal personification of the Class of 2021. So much so that all the talk of a ‘marquee’ squad uplift might not take place.
Leeds have, through the season, shown that a sprinkling of quality is the recipe as opposed to an overhaul in quantity.