Over the summer transfer window, which shut earlier this week, Leeds had been linked with moves for both Conor Gallagher and Lewis O’Brien from Chelsea and Huddersfield Town respectively, however, neither arrived at Elland Road, but the desire to sign a central midfielder appeared clear.
Were you pleased with Leeds' summer business?
It wasn’t just this summer that Hay spoke about Leeds’ search for a new central midfielder, he brought up how close the Whites were to signing Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Cuisance last summer, as it appears that Leeds have wanted a new midfielder since they earned promotion from the Championship.
Hay gave his thoughts and insight into Leeds’ attempts to sign a central midfielder.
“Well, the strange thing about Cuisance from Bayern Munich was that that would have happened had it not been for the medical. That was pretty much as good as done, and it was only a concern about a bone in his foot that made them think ‘we don’t want to do this’.
“Gallagher, they would have taken, I think [they were] disappointed not to get him because they’re normally pretty competitive in deals like that.
“O’Brien made me think that there was a kind of sense behind the scenes that he was only worth doing if they got him at a certain price, and if it was going to cost more and if they were going to be forced to go higher than they wanted to, actually they didn’t feel like they needed him that much.
“I mean, with O’Brien, you were talking about the difference of maybe, I don’t know, £3 million, £4 million to get that one done – that is not a huge amount of money for a Premier League club these days.
“If Leeds had been desperate for him, I think you could have seen ways in which that one would have happened. It just felt as if they looked at that and said, ‘do you know what, he’s not that essential’.”
TIF Thoughts on Leeds wanting a central midfielder…
There is no doubt that Kalvin Phillips is the main centre-midfield general in Marcelo Bielsa’s side, especially when they deploy their 4-1-4-1 formation, while his ability and quality was highlighted by winning England’s player of the year award earlier this week. However, Leeds could do with some cover for him.
There is no other player in the first team that is a natural as a holding midfielder (as per Transfermarkt), so having to rely on Phillips staying fit to help Leeds succeed seems a risky strategy to take, especially if the difference in signing O’Brien was just £3-4 million, as Hay claimed, then that could potentially come back to haunt them if the midfielder burns out or picks up a serious injury.