Why Leeds United should act quickly to snap up Yohan Boli
According to Birmingham Live, Leeds United are among a host of Championship clubs interested in a move for Ivorian international striker Yohan Boli, who currently plies his trade with Sint-Truiden in the Belgian top-flight.
Joint pace-setters in the division, West Brom, and playoff hopefuls Brentford have also been credited with an interest in the 26-year-old, who is out of contract at Sint-Truiden in the summer of 2020. (h/t Birmingham Live)
However, as per the report, Boli is closing in on a move to Qatari outfit, Al-Rayyan Sports Club, who have announced that the Ivorian has passed a medical and is set to complete a move to the Middle East before the January deadline.
The player, though, has his heart set on a move to the EFL Championship (h/t Birmingham Live) after plundering 11 goals in 18 appearances across all competitions in the ongoing campaign in Belgium so far.
Born in Arras, France, Yohan Boli is the son of former Ivorian footballer Roger Boli, who played for Walsall and AFC Bournemouth in English football during the 1990s.
The 26-year-old initially featured for Avion, Sedan, Roeselare and Verveitois in the lower divisions in France and Belgium before earning a move to Belgian top-flight club Sint-Truiden in 2015.
Boli, who has been capped twice by Ivory Coast at the senior international level, boasts of a tally of 43 goals and 9 assists in 128 appearances for Sint-Truiden across all competitions, including 39 goals in 112 outings in the Jupiler Pro League, the top-flight of Belgian football.
Meanwhile, Leeds United are currently top of the standings in the Championship ahead of automatic promotion rivals West Brom, who are just behind the Whites on goal difference.
The stage is perfectly set for the West Yorkshire giants to end their long exile from the Premier League with a promotion-winning season in the second-tier. Marcelo Bielsa must avoid any slip-ups this time around, having failed to guide the club to promotion last season.
To that end, Leeds don’t really need to make wholesale changes to a squad that is already bursting with quality but the departure of Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah is bound to give Bielsa some food for thought.
The Argentine’s confidence in Patrick Bamford has paid rich dividends, with the former Chelsea man scoring 10 times in the Championship so far and contributing greatly to the dynamics with his good all-round attributes, but a replacement for Nketiah should still be a priority for the Whites in January.
With Nketiah no longer in the mix, Leeds currently don’t have a reliable back-up to Bamford. Youngster Ryan Edmondson and Tyler Roberts haven’t featured a lot this season and an injury to the first-choice centre-forward could well derail the club’s pursuit of automatic promotion.
To put things into perspective, Yohan Boli has carved out a big reputation for himself as a bonafide goalscorer in Belgium and his arrival at Elland Road before the January deadline would offer Bielsa some valuable cover heading into the brutal second half of the campaign.
The 26-year-old’s success at Sint-Truiden in Belgium hardly guarantees the same in the English second-tier but there have been obvious signs to suggest that Boli is capable of delivering the goods in a more competitive league.
Plus, his progress over the years has been quite impressive, earning recognition as an international footballer for Ivory Coast.
Agreed, a proven goalscorer in the Championship would be much more reliable and risk-free option for the Whites but Boli could prove to be a shrewd acquisition if he manages to get to grips with the English game.
With the Ivorian’s contract set to expire in 2020, the Whites would be well within their rights to try and negotiate a cut-price deal for the prolific 26-year-old in January.
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Having said that, Yohan Boli is certainly worth a punt for Leeds United and the Championship leaders should act quickly to beat off competition from elsewhere in their pursuit of the centre-forward.