Leeds ‘join transfer hunt’ for Kerkez as Victor Orta eyes second deal
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Leeds United have reportedly joined the hunt for AZ Alkmaar teenager Milos Kerkez as transfer chief Victor Orta looks to add another defender to Jesse Marsch’s squad. The Whites have already struck once in January by raiding RB Salzburg for Max Wober in a bid to battle clear of relegation trouble.
Defence has been a clear issue for Leeds this season, having conceded at a rate of almost two goals per game. Despite sitting 14th in the Premier League table following Wednesday night’s draw with West Ham, they have still conceded more than two of the teams in the bottom three.
Director of football Orta took the first step towards rectifying the issue by snapping up Wober earlier this week. The 24-year-old can play at centre-back or left-back and has the pedigree to slot straight into the starting XI if required, with a price tag of £14million.
Curiously enough, Leeds are now believed to be chasing another left-back as talkSPORT claim they are in the running to sign Kerkez from AZ before the end of the month.
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Kerkez, who is not long past his 19th birthday, would supposedly command a fee of £15m and the Whites’ interest has been matched by Bournemouth and Leicester. If signed, Marsch would be landed with a real selection headache as Kerkez, Wober, Junior Firpo, Pascal Struijk, Stuart Dallas and Leo Hjelde can all play on the left side of defence.
That suggests that a clear-out could be on the cards with Leeds once again struggling to progress in the Premier League, despite spending handsomely during the summer. One of their marquee signings, Luis Sinisterra, has spent time out injured and while other arrivals have impressed, Wilfried Gnonto may well be the surprise package.
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The Italian teenager, who cost just £3.8m, was brought to Elland Road ahead of schedule last summer after Leeds missed out on a host of their attacking targets and he has shown Kerkez that first-team opportunities are available for those still developing on the pitch. Gnonto has forced his way into Marsch’s starting XI and notched his first Premier League goal against the Hammers this week.
Kerkez came through the ranks with Hungarian side Gyor before spending a season on the books of AC Milan and moving to AZ in January last year. His star has risen quickly this campaign with two goals in 14 league appearances, suggesting that he won’t merely blend into the background if Leeds win the transfer tug-of-war.
Speaking in December, Marsch admitted that January should be an ‘active’ month at Elland Road but pledged not to give too much away. “Here’s how I want to deal with this window: being active and everyone is hard at work behind the scenes, but I want to avoid talking about it,” he told reporters.
“I need to keep our attention on our group and our progress. We have moving pieces and we will look at the best situation for every individual. I’m really happy and satisfied with the commitment from every player to get the best out of every day.”
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