Now that the matches have wrapped up it’s fair to say the 2017-18 campaign was a bit of a disappointment for Leeds United. As we posted back in March, it seemed to be a season that promised everything but delivered nothing. Now, however, we can frame a slight letdown of a season in more exact terms.
After finishing 7th in 2016-17 and heading into this season with reasonable aspirations of promotion, the club fell back to 13th in this year’s final table. We now know that a decade-plus absence from the EPL will continue for at least another year. And adding insult to injury, other English competitions didn’t go particularly well either. After Leeds was knocked out in the third round of the 2017-18 FA Cup, Chelsea won the competition, despite Manchester United looking like the favourite to win the tournament. It’s not necessarily that Leeds expected to win, but a few rounds further would have been satisfying, and it’s never fun to see a hated rival on top.
Rather than getting lost in this negativity, however, supporters ought to turn their attention toward the summer, where management will be doing all it can to improve the roster for 2018-19. Here are some of the free agents and transfer targets Paul Heckingbottom and company ought to be looking at.
Having spent the year with Bolton, Sammy Ameobi is free to choose a new club this summer, and will likely be affordable. At 25, he has a lot to offer in various attacking positions, and would certainly add a new dimension to the United offense next season. He had only four goals and two assists this past season, but with his youth and athleticism, and with the club’s tight budget, he’s worth a look.
Arguably more exciting as a potential addition to the attack, Tom Bradshaw appears to be on the market. He led Barnsley in scoring in 2017-18, and with Heckingbottom believed to be eyeing his former club, he could be a natural match. Nottingham Forest is believed to be interested as well, but as of April Leeds was considered to be the favourite.
The Whites could use a boost in the midfield as well, and Jon Nolan is one fo the more interesting candidates that’s come up in rumours. While he’s not a top-flight talent, or doesn’t appear to be, he’s excelled with Shrewsbury Town and appears to be ready for a bigger stage. Still 25, he may yet improve, and it would be nice to see if he can add some energy to the club.
One of the best raw talents Leeds has been linked to, Diogo Goncalves is a young winger who could make a lot of sense. Still attached to Benfica for the moment, Goncalves has produced some drama regarding potential moves of late, but the Leeds rumours have persisted. At just 21 years old he’d certainly be able to mix things up a bit for the Whites.
We’ll wrap up with a defenseman, because United’s back line was far from imposing this past season. The club has repeatedly been linked to Nottingham Forest centre back Jack Hobbs, and there appears to be at least a chance of a deal this summer. Hobbs is 29 and has had some injury issues, but provided he can get healthy a veteran presence anchoring the defense would be welcome. He’s all but said he won’t be re-signing with Nottingham Forest, so he’ll likely be available if Heckingbottom can work out a deal.