Premier League

Leeds have Rodrigo - but do they need another attacking option?

The Spain international arrived from Valencia this week for a fee of €30m, and Marcelo Bielsa wants more attacking reinforcements

9:00am on Friday 28th August 2020
By
Dougie Wright | Professional Analyst

The undeniable truth is that Patrick Bamford should be scoring a lot more goals.

Given the creativity and technical ability of his Leeds team-mates, you could argue that he should have perhaps added another dozen to his tally of sixteen last season. When Leeds United kick off their campaign at Anfield next month, Bamford will have just turned 27 years old.

This is the peak age for a striker; Bamford is no longer a spring chicken and betting on him following two underscoring Championship seasons to land a double-figure haul in the top flight is betting against history.

26 yrs - S (C) - Leeds Utd
64
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
3463
Played matches
45
16
2
Shots P90
3.67
Shots On target P90
1.46
Successful passing %
75%
Duels won P90
3.07

It’s clear that if Leeds United are to fulfil their Premier League potential, an upgrade in the attacking department is required.

Marcelo Bielsa has already recruited Rodrigo from Valencia, but is reportedly keen to bolster the forward line even more, which could put Bamford further down the striking pecking order. But Rodrigo's numbers are not that of an outright, natural goalscorer either, meaning they may remain in the market for another option.

Here are three other names director of football Victor Orta’s team may be looking at.

Leeds' potential striking options

1. Darwin Nunez

Tracked by Brighton and RB Leipzig, the in-demand Almeria striker will almost certainly not be spending a second successive season in the Spanish second division. Much like Leeds, Almería play with a lone striker up top and it was thanks to Nunez’s goalscoring exploits that they were a playoff defeat away from promotion.

At 6ft 1 and with pace to burn, the 21-year-old Uruguayan would be a match for most Premier League defenders physically. However, perhaps his best asset is receiving the ball in the channels and driving at defences. The technical ability and the reading of space are both present as Nunez thunders up the pitch. These qualities also come to the fore with his finishing - sixteen goals in thirty games. Not bad for his first season in European football.

While the rumoured £20 million transfer fee may seem steep for a player with only one good season behind him, consider that Almeria had three permanent managers during their last campaign and Nunez was still able to deliver in abundance. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to believe he could hit much loftier heights under Bielsa.

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Alfredo Morelos

Goals against the champions of Portugal, Switzerland and Denmark should give enough confidence that the Colombian marksman is capable of stepping up a level in terms of his domestic football. Indeed, his 14 Europa League goals last season made him the competition’s top goalscorer if you factor in the qualifying rounds (eight there, six in the competition proper).

Like Nunez, Morelos is used to leading the line by himself. He may not be the tallest, but he remains adept at receiving the ball with his back to goal under pressure, holding a defender off and playing a linking pass. On a similar note, while he’s not the quickest of strikers, his penalty box movement is exceptional.

Like Leeds, Rangers control most of the territory in their games, so Morelos doesn’t need to run in behind or beat an offside trap. He’d struggle in a long ball team where he would be isolated up top, but he thrives in a system where he has plenty of support running off him.

With a bid already tabled for Rangers attacker Ryan Kent, Leeds would do well to consider doubling their interest in the blue half of Glasgow.

Lucas Alario

27 yrs - S (C) - Leverkusen
77
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1165
Played matches
24
7
1
Shots P90
3.79
Shots On target P90
1.47
Successful passing %
73%
Duels won P90
5.49

If Leeds are looking to bring in a more experienced head, 27-year-old Lucas Alario could be a wise move.

With three good seasons under his belt at Leverkusen, the Argentine has established himself as a capable goalscorer in one of the biggest leagues in Europe. However, he has generally been a bench player under Peter Bosz with German international striker Kevin Volland usually preferred up top. With the Kai Havertz money likely to be burning a hole in Leverkusen pockets should the deal to Chelsea happen, Alario may see his opportunities become even fewer - a crying shame for a striker of his quality.

For regular minutes, a move to Yorkshire would suit all parties. Alario is a penalty box specialist who does get involved in the build-up play, but specialises in finding that yard of space for himself in dangerous areas of the pitch. He has a real composure in his finishing, which would be a clear contrast to Bamford.

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