Leeds United are believed to be set to make an approach for Red Bull Salzburg defender, Maximilian Wöber, as manager Jesse Marsch seeks to strengthen his centre-back ranks.
What’s the word?
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Elland Road outfit are reportedly readying a bid for the Austrian international ahead of the January transfer window, with the move potentially set to cost in the region of €16m (£14m), including add-ons.
The transfer guru revealed on Twitter: “Excl: Leeds United are now preparing an offer for Red Bull Salzburg defender Maximilian Wöber. Discussions expected to take place for fee around €11m plus €5m add-ons. Wöber, important player for Salzburg as he’s the captain.”
The Whites have already raided the Bundesliga outfit for the signings of Brenden Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen during the summer window, with Marsch seeking yet another reunion in Yorkshire.
A new recruit to help bolster the backline has seemingly become something of a necessity for the Premier League side due to their defensive woes so far this term, with Leeds having already shipped 26 goals in the top flight thus far – the seventh-worst record in the division.
The club’s last meeting away to Tottenham Hotspur notably Marsch’s men ship four goals having looked especially leaky in north London, with captain Liam Cooper coming in for particular criticism, as one source suggested the manager “should be sacked” for continuing to pick the 31-year-old.
The Scotland international has recorded just a solitary clean sheet from his eight league outings so far this term, with Leeds arguably in need of an upgrade in order to help strengthen the defensive unit.
Turning to the aforementioned Wöber – who can feature at centre-back or at left-back – would seemingly offer an ideal solution, with the 24-year-old able to provide greater quality at both ends of the pitch.
That is evidenced by the fact that the 13-cap brute has kept five clean sheets and averages 1.7 tackles per game this season from his 15 league appearances, while Cooper is just behind as he averages only 1.6 tackles per game so far this term.
Equally, the Salzburg man’s quality on the ball could also be a notable benefit as he has created five big chances so far this season and averages 0.7 key passes per game, while Cooper has failed to create any big chances and averages just 0.4 key passes per game.
While that quality in the final third – which has seen Wöber score twice and registered six assists across all fronts this season – has come largely from a full-back berth, the 6-foot-2 ace has predominantly featured in the heart of the defence in his career to date, ensuring he could offer real flexibility for Marsch and co.
Any fears over losing the experienced presence of Cooper in the side should well be eased by the fact that his potential replacement is also the captain at his current side, having been described as a “leader” by sporting director Christoph Freund.
As such, turning to the former Sevilla and Ajax man could well prove a particularly astute upgrade for those at Elland Road in the New Year.