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Leeds signing this 22-year-old Portuguese league starlet would be quite useful for Bielsa next season

Branimir Kalaica has been in sensational form for Benfica B this season (Getty Images)
Branimir Kalaica has been in sensational form for Benfica B this season (Getty Images)

Why Leeds United should go ahead in their pursuit of Branimir Kalaica

According to Football Insider (h/t Leeds Live), Leeds United are interested in Benfica defender Branimir Kalaica.

The 22-year-old Kalaica currently plies his trade with Benfica’s B side and has been regular in the side following his move from Dinamo Zagreb youth academy back in 2016.

The Croatian, however, has played just once for Benfica’s senior side, which is already filled with talented centre-backs including Ruben Dias. Kalaica featured 16 times for their B side in the league and had kept five clean sheets before coronavirus stopped play.

Branimir Kalaica has been a key player for the Benfica B side in the last couple of seasons.
Branimir Kalaica has been a key player for the Benfica B side in the last couple of seasons. (Getty Images)

To date, he has made 87 appearances across all competitions for Benfica’s B side and has three goals and one assist under his belt.

Kalaica can offer Leeds more depth in their defence

Leeds are currently atop the league table, thanks to a splendid defensive partnership involving young Ben White and captain Liam Cooper. They have the best defensive record in the league, having conceded a mere 34 goals from 43 matches.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa on the touchline. (Getty Images)
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa on the touchline. (Getty Images)

Having had a successful campaign so far, Leeds are most likely to earn Premier League promotion. However, the side needs more reinforcements to stay in the top-flight. One of Leeds’s top performers this season, White is currently on a season-long loan from Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion and is expected to return to his parent club at the end of this season.

This puts them in a precarious state, as they just have Cooper and veteran Gaetano Berardi apart from White. The Swiss defender is already 31 and has, for the most part of this season, been a back-up option.

Cooper, White, and Berardi are the side’s established defenders while they also have youngsters Pascal Struijk and Oliver Casey. However, the duo lacks big-game experience and have played just three league matches altogether, meaning Leeds are clearly in need of new and experienced face at the back.

Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi is already 31 now.
Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi is already 31 years old now. (Getty Images)

Considering all this, a move for Kalaica seems like a step in the right direction by Leeds, especially if they get promoted to the Premier League next season.

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Verdict

Leeds’ dearth of established centre-backs is clearly evident and Kalaica, who has already proved himself as a key player for Benfica’s B side in the last couple of years, would be a good option. His addition will offer Bielsa more options next season if they earn Premier League promotion. Hence, they should go ahead with this deal and land him at Elland Road as soon as possible.

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