- Leeds United’s solid start to the Championship season puts them in contention for promotion, with the Whites in third place.
- Daniel Farke’s side are reportedly following the situation of Joaquin Piquerez, a talented full-back attracting attention from multiple clubs.
- Piquerez’s skills and impressive stats could make him a valuable addition to Leeds, potentially replacing current left-back Sam Byram in the long term.
Leeds United have salvaged a solid start to the Championship season after enduring relegation from the Premier League last year, with Daniel Farke’s side a distance away from the top two but firmly in the mix for promotion at this stage.
Appointing Farke was a decision made to strengthen the Whites’ prospects of returning to the top flight at the first time of asking, with the German manager having won the Championship on two occasions previously with Norwich City.
However, the task was never going to be easy despite the club’s stature and the ostensible quality filling the ranks, with a mass exodus removing many former members during the summer.
Plenty of fresh faces have arrived, but pundit and former England midfielder Carlton Palmer has tipped “more to come” from the Whites in January, with sights set on closing the gap on frontrunners Leicester City and Ipswich Town.
Leeds United transfer targets
According to journalist Diego Firmino – via Sport Witness – Leeds are following the situation of Joaquin Piquerez from Palmeiras, with the exciting full-back attracting attention from multiple European clubs following his performances in Brazil.
Numerous outfits are indeed supposedly interested, with Premier League sides Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur both receiving tentative links, but Leeds could offer the 25-year-old a starring role and a platform to build from in West Yorkshire.
The cost of a transfer has not yet been made apparent, but there is no denying that Piquerez boasts qualities that would slot right into Elland Road’s starting squad and that Farke and 49ers Enterprises will pounce if given the chance.
The dynamo is currently valued at around £6m by Football Transfers’ valuation model, and this ballpark fee would likely be required to prise him away from Palmeiras.
Why Leeds want Joaquin Piquerez
Leeds have been impressive in maintaining a charge on the top of the division despite a range of injury problems, and there may be optimism among supporters that a few well-placed winter acquisitions would work wonders in closing the gap on the front of the pack.
Piquerez would open up a range of possibilities with his thunderous shooting skills and his direct, barrelling approach, having recently starred at the centre of Palmeiras’ 5-0 drubbing over Sao Paulo.
As per Sofascore, he has scored three goals and supplied four assists from 21 matches in the Brasileiro Série A this season, completing 85% of his passes, creating 0.9 key passes per outing and also making 6.7 ball recoveries, 1.8 tackles and 1.6 clearances per game, highlighting his impressive multi-functional ability.
Given the stunning football that was pumped into the Leeds squad under the distinguished Argentinian boss, it’s no wonder that the Whites are apparently intrigued by the possibility of signing a player that Bielsa has swiftly deemed an integral part of his national side’s setup.
Sam Byram is the current host on the left side of the Whites backline, and while he has impressed since the summer, Farke is probably doing the right thing in searching for a successor to dominate for the foreseeable future.
Why Joaquin Piquerez is better than Sam Byram
Byram joined Leeds on a free transfer in the summer after his contract with Norwich expired, having previously kicked his career off at Elland Road after rising through the youth ranks.
The experienced defender, now aged 30, has enjoyed an impressive campaign so far, with Sofascore recording his performances in the English second tier, having completed 79% of his passes, made 4.4 ball recoveries, 1.8 tackles, 1.7 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game and scored a goal and an assist apiece.
He is an industrious part of the squad and one who has served well in the absence of Junior Firpo, with the former Barcelona player yet to feature this season due to injury – frankly, few expected he would have remained at the club following the summer.
As per FBref, Uruguayan star Piquerez ranks among the top 4% of full-backs across leagues similar to the Brasileiro Série A over the past year for goals, the top 16% for assists and the top 17% for pass completion per 90, illustrating his natural attacking prowess and his crispness in possession.
Content creator Nathan Joyes was among those to be impressed by United’s reported interest, saying: “Would be great business. Tidy left-back, likes to press forward and can certainly pick a pass. Great coup for Leeds if it happens.”
This high-octane approach is something that really would slot into Farke’s system like a dovetail joint; the 46-year-old likes to implement a possession-based style with an emphasis on intelligent, quick transitions and an understanding of the desired patterns to electrify the opposition on the counter.
Given that Piquerez bombs forward like a machine, he could be the engine on the wing, playing a starring role to catapult the Elland Road side right back into the top flight, serving as the dream heir to Byram.
Byram is a solid and dependable member of Farke’s team and offers a balanced skill set across both defensive flanks, ranking among the top 19% of full-backs across leagues similar to the Championship over the past year for shots taken, the top 9% for touches in the attacking penalty area and blocks, and the top 8% for aerial wins per 90.
The links attached to Leeds’ interest are admittedly somewhat tenuous, but there is no question that prioritising the left-back position would be a prudent move in the long term.
Byram has been a good signing and has earned praise for his “important” role in the team by Farke, but age is not on his side and Piquerez could be the perfect addition to dominate the left channel for many years.
Firpo’s situation is also somewhat indeterminate, and by landing a free-scoring, robust new star in Piquerez, Farke may yet acquire the tools to break back into the Premier League and then cement a position of prominence.