As Thursday’s transfer deadline approaches, Leeds United manager Daniel Farke is trying to secure a reunion with Ben Godfrey, one of his former players at Norwich City.
Everton are open to letting Godfrey leave Goodison Park before the end of the window as they look to trim their wage bill, but they have rejected Leeds’ first loan offer. 49ers Enterprises are still pushing to get the deal done, and are expected to return with another bid.
In the meantime, though, it’s sensible for Leeds to put some feelers out for alternative centre-backs, to ensure they’re not left empty-handed if they can’t pull off the Godfrey deal. That’s where Bournemouth’s Chris Mepham comes in.
Leeds unsuccessful with Mepham approach
According to Fabrizio Romano, Leeds have made an approach for Mepham, along with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United, but both the Championship promotion-chasers and Premier League strugglers have been rebuffed by Andoni Iraola’s side.
The Cherries regard him as too important a player to be sold or loaned out at this late stage, and they’ve told his suitors that he won’t be leaving this week.
“Aggressive” Mepham has been hard done by
It sounds like Leeds can forget about signing Mepham, until the summer at the very least, and that’s as disappointing as it is surprising. Bournemouth’s stance isn’t really consistent with the hard facts when it comes to Mepham’s lack of involvement this season – as you can see in the table below, he’s played almost as many minutes in the domestic cup competitions (225) as he has in the Premier League (265). Indeed, his start in the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool last time out was only his third in the top-flight this season.
Leeds fans may have relished what former manager Scott Parker has called an “aggressive” approach to defending from the Welshman. When compared to fellow centre-backs in similar leagues over the last year, he ranks in the 94th percentile for dribblers challenged per 90 (2.08), demonstrating his eagerness to put a foot in, and the 90th for blocks (1.74), which shows that he’s ready to throw his body in the way of the ball. He sits in the 91st for interceptions too (1.82), so he clearly defends on the front foot.
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Now that Leeds look set to miss out, there’s extra pressure on the club to land Godfrey, or indeed a different, plan-c target. It’s unclear why exactly Everton were dissatisfied with their proposed terms – they may have wanted the Whites to take on a greater share of the player’s salary – but whatever the reasoning, they need to either meet the Toffees’ demands or move on at this stage.