COMMENT By Will Butcher
Football Insider gazes into its crystal ball and predicts the Leeds team for the opening day of the 2017-18 campaign.
Garry Monk could bring in five new players to Leeds starting XI if the Yorkshire giants gain promotion to the Premier League come May.
The former Swansea boss has seen his side defy pre-season expectation of a mid-table finish at best, by orchestrating a promotion challenge that sees them lie in fifth place in the table and with genuine hopes of ending their 13-year spell in the lower leagues.
With a huge windfall set to be gratefully received by the Yorkshire giants if Monk can secure promotion in his first season as Leeds manager, the 37-year-old could bring in five players.
Alfonso Pedraza and Kyle Bartley could sign permanent deals with the Yorkshire club, as they look to boost their side’s chance of gaining a place in the top flight while on loan at Elland Road.
With Rob Green and Charlie Taylor set to leave as their contracts continue to wind down, Monk could bring in two replacements as well as signing Max Gradel after January speculation.
Potential recruits in the back five could be Liverpool’s versatile defender Joe Gomez and Tottenham goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Bournemouth’s Gradel played for Leeds for two years after an initial loan spell between 2009 and 2011, before leaving to join French side St. Etienne.
The Sun claimed that the Ivory Coast international is allowed to leave Bournemouth, which prompted Leeds fans to urge their club to sign him and they could do just that in the summer.
With left-back Taylor likely to depart, a defender is needed. The Daily Star claim that Liverpool’s Gomez will be allowed to leave on loan next season, which could see Monk profit.
Able to play anywhere in defence, Gomez would be a top-quality replacement for Taylor, while a new goalkeeper is also needed as a new contract does not seem to be on the horizon for Green.
Monk worked as both a player and a manager with Tottenham’s out-of-favour stopper Vorm at Swansea, and he could use that connection to persuade Vorm to join Leeds.
Holland international Vorm currently has less than 18 months remaining on his current deal, and although he is likely to be earning a substantial wage packet, Leeds’ promotion windfall could help cover the cost of the goalkeeper’s wage demands.
Bringing in all five players to the starting line-up would give Leeds both a Premier League outlook and a fighting chance to remain in the top flight if they gain promotion this season.
In other Leeds transfer news, this teenage wonderkid wants to win the Premier League with his father’s old side.