Why Luke Freeman could be a useful signing for Leeds United
According to claims from The Sun journalist Alan Nixon (h/t Leeds Live), Leeds United have been linked with a January loan move for out-of-favour Sheffield United attacker Luke Freeman, who has found regular minutes hard to come by at Bramall Lane in the Premier League this season.
The report adds that Director of Football Victor Orta has identified the 27-year-old versatile attacking midfielder as a replacement for Jack Clarke, who has returned to Tottenham after clocking up just 19 minutes of Championship football during his loan spell at Elland Road in the first half of the campaign.
Freeman, who accumulated 7 goals and 6 assists in 43 appearances for QPR in the Championship last season, won the Player of the Season award at Loftus Road before departing to join newly-promoted side Sheffield United in the Premier League.
However, things haven’t really clicked for the diminutive left-footed ace since his switch to Bramall Lane, with Freeman starting just thrice for the Blades in the Premier League so far.
The former Arsenal and Bristol City man has clocked up just 12 appearances for Chris Wilder’s side in all competitions this season and his constant snub from the playing eleven has fuelled speculations over his future, with Leeds United now exploring the possibility of offering him a temporary return to the Championship.
The Whites are going neck-to-neck with Slaven Bilic’s side in the race for automatic promotion. With the transfer window now open, Marcelo Bielsa would be wise to cast his rod into the pond to ensure that he has all the bases covered heading into the all-important second half of the campaign.
A replacement for departed Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah to play as the understudy to Patrick Bamford in front of goal continues to be a top priority for the West Yorkshire giants in the January market. Clarke, on the other hand, barely featured for the club during the first half of the campaign, meaning that his departure doesn’t come as a massive blow.
However, Clarke’s return to Tottenham has certainly depleted Leeds United of some valuable depth in their ranks and while the Whites apparently have some quality options in the wide areas, bringing in a replacement would ensure that Bielsa has sufficient cover moving forward.
Jack Harrison, who is currently serving his second consecutive loan spell at Leeds United from Man City, has been an influential creative outlet down the left flank, contributing with 5 goals and 6 assists in 26 appearances.
However, the same doesn’t apply to Helder Costa, who has been a big flop at Elland Road since his loan switch from Wolves this past summer, with the Portuguese international just managing meagre returns of 3 goals and 1 assist in 26 outings.
The likes of Ezgjan Alioski and Stuart Dallas have proven their worth as versatile utility players, with Bielsa constantly rotating them between defensive and attacking roles out wide on the flanks, but Leeds can certainly do with an upgrade on the Costa.
To put things into perspective, Leeds United can certainly do a bit more depth in their attacking options and a versatile playmaking winger like Luke Freeman could definitely hand a massive boost to Bielsa’s squad dynamics.
Essentially an attacking midfielder by trade, the 27-year-old is adept at playing out wide on either flank and also through the centre in a No.10 role, meaning that he could possibly provide some quality cover in multiple areas across the pitch.
Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich have been among the club’s most creative players in the middle of the park and Freeman’s arrival would certainly increase competition for places. Plus, the former QPR star could well usurp Costa in Bielsa’s pecking order if the Portuguese star continues to underwhelm.
With an impressive tally of 18 goals and 29 assists in 163 career appearances in the Championship, Freeman might have struggled to cut the teeth in the Premier League but he remains a proven creative player at this level, and it is a no-brainer that he could add more quality and flexibility to Leeds’ attack.
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To that end, Leeds United completing a loan deal for Luke Freeman in January could bring a substantial improvement to their already-potent creative cavalry.