Radrizzani strikes Leeds transfer blow - and why fans should be thrilled
COMMENT By Editor Wayne Veysey
It might not count as much of a surprise. And it would have verged on the negligible had Leeds’ new ownership not pushed through the deal.
Nevertheless, Leeds’ first signing of the January window is a very necessary and important one.
The Yorkshire giants trumpeted at midday on Monday that Pablo Hernandez, who was on loan for the opening half of the season, has joined from Qatari club Al-Arabi on a permanent deal.
It will be an initial six-month transfer, with the option for Leeds to extend it by 12 months at the end of the agreement.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 9, 2017
Supporters looking for a major transfer statement in the first week of the reign of new joint-owner Andrea Radrizzani have not been given one.
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Leeds have covered themselves by only tying Hernandez down until the end of the season, leaving a get-out in case his form or fitness plummets, or both.
However, fans should still be thrilled at Radrizzani striking his first transfer blow within five days of being confirmed as having a 50 per cent stake in the former Champions League club.
Hernandez may not have made as big an impact as some of last summer’s arrivals, most notably defensive titans Pontus Jansson, Kyle Bartley and Luke Ayling and exciting wide man Hadi Sacko.
Hernandez may be 31 – hence, why Leeds have given themselves a get-out – and no longer the speedy right-winger who scorched left-backs for breakfast but the four-times Spain international remains a class act.
But he has brought a touch of class to a midfield previously lacking that key quality. On his day, he is a cut above most of the players in the notoriously competitive Championship.
The Spaniard has the ability to dictate the pace of a game with his touch, vision and inventiveness. He took some time to find his feet in the Championship but now looks at home conducting the Leeds orchestra from his central playmaking role.
Sure, the Hernandez deal could have been wrapped up under the old regime, the one where Cellino ruled with an iron fist wrapped in an iron glove.
But it would be stretching credulity to imagine that sports media mogul Radrizzani, who had been in talks to buy the club for months before sealing 50 per cent ownership that could become 100 per cent in July, had no say in Leeds’ first foray into the January transfer market.
Tying up Hernandez permanently might have been a no-brainer once the sums added up, but the deal has still been sealed and a quality player has not been allowed to wriggle away.
For Leeeds fans, so used to disappointments and let-downs over the last 13 years, that is something to be grateful for.
In other Leeds transfer news, a 25-year-old has signed for the club after agreeing terms.