Leeds United have reportedly moved into the ‘pole position’ to sign an exciting midfield talent…
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That’s according to journalist Ciro Venerato, speaking on RAI and transcripted by Area Napoli (via Sport Witness), who suggests that the Whites have moved into the lead in their pursuit of Azzedine Ounahi from Angers.
The journalist, who was covering Napoli’s pursuit of the Moroccan maestro, claimed: “As regards the Napoli transfer market, we can say that Leeds are in pole position for the Moroccan Azzedine Ounahi.
“The English have offered €25m (£22m) to Angers and €2.5m to the player, higher figures than those offered by Napoli which had stopped at €1.5m.”
Marsch could ditch Roca for Ounahi
Having only signed for Leeds last summer, Marc Roca has already established himself as a mainstay in Jesse Marsch‘s side.
The Spaniard does offer a dependable pair of legs beside the relentless Tyler Adams, and for that, he must be commended.
However, given how the Leeds manager likes to play his football with what The Athletic‘s Liam Tharme described as ‘a high-risk, potentially high-reward approach’, perhaps he would be better served to employ someone like Ounahi, who has a lot more attacking impetus than the former Bayern Munich maestro.
Whilst Roca boasts a 6.92 Sofascore rating in the Premier League, it could be argued that he largely occupies a similar role to Adams, with both being more defensive-minded midfielders.
Roca averages 2.2 tackles per game alongside an 81% pass accuracy, which is dwarfed by the four tackles per game and 83% pass accuracy of the American.
There is not an inherent need for this solely defensive midfield base, and therefore the 26-year-old could take a back seat if World Cup star Ounahi does sign from Angers.
Do you think Leeds will sign Ounahi?
The 22-year-old ranks in the top 1% for dribbles completed among positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past 12 months, which he pairs with an unrelenting desire to push forward when possible. As such, he also sits in the top 5% for progressive passes received.
Alongside Sofyan Amrabat in Qatar, he provided an impressive base with which Morocco could push forward with speed, shocking Portugal and Spain along their way to making history as the first country from Africa to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
At club level, Adams could operate in that solely defensive role to allow Ounahi to push forward and truly unlock the potential of this Leeds team. After all, his exploits at the tournament in Qatar were lauded as “genuinely world-class” by World Cup consultant and USA-based coach Jed Davies.
Whilst it would require a slight tweak in philosophy, it seems clear that Marsch favours an offensive style which somewhat forsakes defending. As such, in 17 league games this season, the Whites have scored 25 goals but conceded 31, the joint-fourth worst tally in the division for the latter.
If Leeds are to continue neglecting their defensive duties, the least they could do is sign players appropriately to maximise their output going forward. Ounahi fits this bill and would be an ample attacking upgrade on Roca.