Leeds United were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2022/23 campaign after three years at the top table of English football.
The Whites were promoted under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020 and stayed up under the Argentine boss and then Jesse Marsch. However, a combination of Marsch, Javi Gracia, and Sam Allardyce failed to keep them up last term.
An instant return to the top-flight is now on the agenda for the Yorkshire-based outfit and German boss Daniel Farke has been brought in to secure it.
The impressive tactician won two Championship titles during his time with Norwich City earlier in his career and is now looking for a third promotion to the Premier League.
Farke’s Championship title-winning seasons with Norwich (via Sky Sports):
However, his squad was dealt a number of blows as the likes of Tyler Adams, Rodrigo, Max Wober, Robin Koch, Jack Harrison, Luis Sinisterra, and Marc Roca moved on either permanently or out on loan.
One decision that the German head coach made that may come back to haunt him, though, is the one to loan out talented young midfielder Sam Greenwood, who has outscored Wilfried Gnonto, Dan James, and Jaidon Anthony this season.
Why Leeds could lose Greenwood permanently
The Whites could lose the ex-Arsenal prospect on a permanent deal at the end of the 2023/24 campaign as they included a purchase option within his loan deal with Middlesbrough.
It was recently reported by The Athletic that Boro negotiated an option to sign Greenwood for £1.5m during next summer’s transfer window if they decide the fit is right by that point.
This means that, essentially, Farke and Leeds have little say in what happens with the midfield technician next year as his current club have the chance to snap him up permanently if they want to.
If Middlesbrough do decide that they want to activate that £1.5m buyout clause and the Whites do not want to lose him then they would need to convince the player to turn down the opportunity to return to Teesside.
This could be a difficult task when you consider that Leeds were willing to sanction a possible permanent exit for him last summer and decided that he was not ready for their first-team.
Greenwood has been shown faith by Boro and may, therefore, prefer a switch to Michael Carrick’s side over coming back to Elland Road if it comes down to it next summer.
Sam Greenwood’s statistics this season
The 21-year-old whiz, who former Leeds ace Noel Whelan hailed for his “immense” ability, endured a slow start to life at Middlesbrough as his first four appearances for the club came as a substitute in the Championship.
However, he has since broken into the starting XI and has started each of their last four league matches, which has allowed him to showcase his quality out wide.
Greenwood has been deployed on the left of an attacking midfield trio behind the main centre-forward and has caught the eye with his recent attacking contributions.
The right-footed wizard has scored two goals in four starts, both of which came within the last three games, and the latest of those came in their 2-1 win over Norwich City on Tuesday night.
He produced a fantastic display against the Canaries earlier this week with a Sofascore rating of 7.7, which was the highest score of any player for either side.
The English dynamo scored the opening goal for Boro as he arrived in the right place at the right time to finish from close range after Norwich gave possession away on the opposite side of the pitch.
Greenwood also won seven of his 12 duels and completed all three of his attempted dribbles. These statistics show that the talented gem offered strength out of possession and helped to carry his team up the pitch with his dribbling quality.
To the latter point, the former Sunderland academy ace has completed 15 progressive carries in his last four matches for Boro and this shows that, alongside a goal threat, the Leeds loanee can provide value in transition.
Farke may now be looking at the gem’s recent performances and wondering whether or not it was a mistake to part ways with the 21-year-old ace, particularly when he looks at how his current wing options have performed in front of goal.
Wilfried Gnonto’s statistics this season
Gnonto has scored one goal in six Championship starts, with one further appearance off the bench, throughout the 2023/24 campaign so far.
The Italy international was brought back into the starting XI against Stoke on Wednesday night and failed to make the most of his opportunity to shine. He failed to provide a single shot on target, completed dribble, or chance created for his teammates in 70 minutes on the pitch.
Chances have not been particularly hard to come by for the 19-year-old whiz as he has already missed two ‘big chances’ and taken 1.6 shots per game, which suggests that his current return of one goal has been an underperformance.
Whereas, Greenwood has taken 1.3 shots per match and has not missed a single ‘big chance’ in front of goal to go along with his two league strikes.
Gnonto is not the only Leeds forward who has been outperformed in front of goal by the Boro star, though, as Anthony and James have also only scored one goal each in the league so far this season. The latter has, at least, provided four assists but the Bournemouth loanee is yet to register a single assist.
Meanwhile, Ian Poveda, Patrick Bamford, and Joe Gelhardt were all kept around to be part of the squad and have combined for zero goals and zero assists in 15 league appearances between them.
These statistics suggest that Leeds could have benefitted from keeping the 5 foot 11 dynamo as part of their squad to bolster their attacking options out wide.
The Whites have not had a steady stream of goals from those positions, outside of Crysencio Summerville’s four strikes, and this was illustrated on Wednesday as Anthony and Gnonto started out wide and failed to make an impact in the final third as Farke’s men lost 1-0 to Leeds.