Why Felipe Caicedo is a big miss for Leeds United
The West Yorkshire giants were repeatedly linked with a move for the 68-cap Ecuadorian international during the summer transfer window but the striker has finally poured cold water on those speculations by putting pen to paper on fresh terms at his current club. (h/t Il Messaggero)
Having missed out on the former Man City hitman in the summer, Leeds were tipped to go back in the market for Caicedo in January, given that his previous contract at Lazio was due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
However, with the 31-year-old signing a new two-year contract with the Serie A outfit, a move to Elland Road doesn’t look like a possibility any longer. Caicedo will be 33 by the time his new contract runs out and the Whites surely won’t be looking at him as a potential target at that age.
Well, it is not difficult to see as to why Leeds were keen to bring the Ecuadorian to the club back in the summer. The lack of a prolific goalscorer up top was one of the major stumbling blocks in Marcelo Bielsa’s pursuit of promotion the last term and Caicedo was viewed as someone who would possibly provide that devastating and formidable presence in front of goal.
An out-and-out free-scoring centre-forward was at the top of the club’s wishlist in the summer but, in the end, a loan deal for Arsenal starlet Eddie Nketiah was all that the Whites could manage to pull off in the market.
Nketiah, though a really talented player with potential, is far too young and inexperienced to be regarded as a regular source of goals and assists in the Championship but a loan deal for the England U-21 international looked like a real coup for Leeds, nonetheless.
To that end, the Whites have every reason to be delighted with the kind of promise that the 20-year-old has shown thus far, with Nketiah already bagging 4 goals and an assist in 7 appearances across all competitions.
Despite that, however, the inconsistencies of first-choice No.9 Patrick Bamford continue to be a nagging issue for the Elland Road faithful. Many would have breathed a sigh of relief when former Middlesbrough man made a bright start to the season with 4 goals in his first 5 Championship outings but Bamford hasn’t managed to keep up that rich vein of form.
The 26-year-old has failed to find the net in any of his last five league appearances and Leeds have once again been forced to rely on goalscoring contributions from other areas of the pitch.
To put things into perspective, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that Felipe Caicedo’s new contract at Lazio comes as a massive blow to Leeds United, who are still without a bonafide 20-goal-a-season striker to propel them to an automatic promotion spot this term.
Leeds, of course, are currently top of the standings after their latest victory over promotion rivals West Brom and, while the Whites certainly look good enough to secure a playoff spot, the absence of a target man up top could once again turn out to be an Achilles Heel as far as their hopes of finishing in the top-two are concerned.
And that is exactly where a bonafide goalscorer like Felipe Caicedo would have made a massive difference. Besides being a striker with proven pedigree at the highest level in Europe, Caicedo would have added an entirely different dimension to Bielsa’s attack, which is currently far too reliant on veteran Pablo Hernandez and Bamford.
A strong and powerful centre-forward blessed with the natural skillset to put away chances with both feet and head, the 31-year-old is still an intimidating presence inside the box and his ability to hold the ball and link up with his teammates would have brought the best out of others as well.
Bielsa likes his attackers to make runs between the channels in order to break the opposition down but Caicedo’s direct style would have provided the Argentine with a much-needed plan ‘B’.
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Suffice to say, Leeds missing out on the hugely-experienced 31-year-old hitman certainly comes as a big blow and it is high time for the Whites to recruit a proven striker in January if they are really serious about making it to the Premier League.