Why Leeds United should reignite interest in Erick Pulgar
Back in September, a report from Italian outlet La Nazione via Sport Witness (h/t Leeds Live) claimed that Leeds United had submitted an offer for Fiorentina midfielder Erick Pulgar. However, talks between the clubs failed to progress further and the Chilean international ended up staying put in the Serie A.
Erick Pulgar featured for Deportes Antofagasta and Universidad Catolica in his native Chile before moving abroad with Italian club Bologna in the summer of 2015. He went on to make 106 appearances for Bologna in all competitions over the course of four seasons, registering 10 goals and 3 assists in the process.
Fiorentina then snapped up the 26-year-old in 2019 and Pulgar has since blossomed into a top-quality central midfielder in the Serie A. The Chilean enforcer has amassed an impressive tally of 7 goals and 8 assists in 46 appearances for La Viola in all competitions. A full international for Chile since 2015, Pulgar has earned 24 caps for his nation so far, representing them at 2019 Copa America.
Pulgar would add more depth to the Leeds midfield
Leeds United roped in Rodrigo Moreno and Raphinha to bolster their attack in the summer. Robin Koch and Diego Llorente also came through the door to strengthen Marcelo Bielsa’s backline but the Whites failed to bring in any reinforcements to add to their midfield ranks.
Leeds have already been made to pay a heavy price for their lack of depth in the middle of the park. The injury to Kalvin Phillips has badly exposed the absence of quality alternatives there. It’s clear that Mateusz Klich hasn’t got the right set of attributes to slot into a defensive midfield role, with the Pole very much a box-to-box type operator.
Jamie Shackleton and Pascal Struijk have also struggled to step into Phillips’ shoes due to lack of experience at the highest level. Suffice to say, Leeds are presently down to bare bones in the central midfield department and a new player should definitely be high on the club’s agenda when the market reopens in January.
To put things into perspective, Leeds are crying out for reinforcements in the midfield and a potential deal for Erick Pulgar during the mid-season trading period would offer Bielsa some much-needed cover and quality in that department. The Chilean has the versatility to switch between defensive and box-to-box roles, and his arrival in West Yorkshire would, therefore, reduce the burden on Klich and Phillips.
Despite not being an out-and-out attacking midfielder by trade, Pulgar is more than capable of scoring as well as creating goals for his side. As evident from his heat map last season, the 26-year-old also excels with his work rate at both ends of the pitch. That would make him a tailor-made fit for Bielsa’s high-pressing system at Elland Road.
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Leeds have squad depth issues in several areas of their squad and bringing in a new midfielder should be a top priority for the Whites in January. Erick Pulgar has already proven his quality in Italy.
The Chilean still has his best years ahead of him at 26 and working under a charismatic manager like Bielsa will surely help him take his game to the next level.