Why Leeds should keep their eyes off talented starlet Manu Kone
According to claims from French outlet RMC Sport (h/t Leeds Live), Premier League newcomers Leeds United have opened talks with Toulouse over a potential record-breaking deal for midfielder Manu Kone.
The Whites are keen on signing the highly-rated 19-year-old but Toulouse, who suffered relegation from the French top-flight at the end of last season, are demanding a fee of €15million for the starlet. That would represent the highest-ever transfer fee pocketed by the Ligue 2 side in the history. (RMC Sport h/t Leeds Live)
Born in Colombes, France, Manu Kone started his footballing education in the youth ranks of Paris FC before joining lower-division outfit AC de Boulogne-Billancourt. He eventually joined Toulouse in 2016 and was promoted to the club’s B side after impressing for the U-19s.
The 19-year-old made his senior professional debut for Toulouse in a 2-1 defeat against Dijon in Ligue 1 towards the back end of the 2018-19 campaign. Kone, who has also represented France at U-18 and U-19 levels, made 13 league appearances last term as Toulouse were relegated from the top-flight.
Kone has made a bright start to the 2020-21 Ligue 2 campaign, having started each of his team’s first four league fixtures in the second-tier so far.
Leeds shouldn’t pay big money for Kone
Leeds United have very little cover for regular starters Mateusz Klich, Pablo Hernandez and Kalvin Phillips in the central areas of the pitch. Adam Forshaw, who is currently on the comeback trail from a long-term injury, and youngsters Jamie Shackleton, Tyler Roberts, Robbie Gotts, and Mateusz Bogusz, are the only options available at Marcelo Bielsa’s disposal.
Hence, with so many exciting prospects already trying to make a name for themselves in the Premier League, the Whites need to look for some readymade midfield reinforcements in the market before the deadline next month.
In other words, they need players who can make an immediate impact rather than more new signings with one eye on the future. Manu Kone, unfortunately, falls in the latter bracket, having made only 21 senior appearances in his fledgeling career so far.
Moreover, it would be a massive gamble for Leeds to match Toulouse’s €15m asking price for the French starlet, who remains completely unproven at the highest level. Despite his talent and potential, there are no guarantees that he would be able to make the grade in English football.
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It would perhaps have made sense to argue in favour of Leeds’ interest in Manu Kone had he been available on the cheap. But with finances tight in the post-pandemic market, the West Yorkshire giants simply can’t afford to pay truckloads of money for an unproven teenager.
Having said that, Bielsa might as well look at other avenues if he is genuinely interested in adding more depth and quality to his midfield ranks.