Leeds

Ryan Kent may be the perfect winger for Leeds United

Robbie Copeland
Kent in action
Kent in action / Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Ever since Marcelo Bielsa took over at Leeds in the summer of 2018, their recruitment has been pretty much on the money.

His first addition was Patrick Bamford from Chelsea, who has been an inspiration in their maiden season back in the Premier League. Raphinha, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch have helped establish them in the top flight, while even Rodrigo - who initially looked like a major misstep - hit some serious form towards the tail-end of last season.

Of the ten permanent signings Bielsa made prior to this summer, in fact, only Helder Costa has fallen short of expectation. That's not a bad strike rate at all, and it bodes well for whoever is next in the door.

According to various reports, their next arrival could be long-term target Ryan Kent. The winger, who Leeds have been tracking since he was on Liverpool's books in 2019, was a revelation in Rangers' title-win last season, and The Athletic are the most recent outlet to claim the Elland Road side are still interested.

Kent has been a central part of Rangers' transformation from Scottish football's laughing stock into the undisputed Premiership champions. His loan move to Ibrox in 2018/19 was a roaring success, and while his first year as a permanent player was transitional, he delivered some of the best form of his career last season on their way to stopping 'Ten in a Row' in its tracks.

With the form he is showing in Scotland, it's no surprise to hear of interest from the English Premier League. More and more, we're seeing players bred in the SPFL stand out in England's top flight, with Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, John McGinn and Kieran Tierney just a handful of those who have seamlessly made the jump.

Kent is standing out to the same extent as that formidable cast, but it won't be easy to lure him away from the Scottish champions this summer. Steven Gerrard recently said anyone who wants one of his key players will have to 'bring an army' to Ibrox, so make of that what you will.

But even the most ambitious of Rangers fans know that he won't be playing in Scotland for the rest of his career. And their resolve may well be put to the test in the weeks ahead.

The Leeds rumours make perfect sense, and not just because they are the level of club you'd expect to be interested; ambitious, forward thinking and with European football in their sights

Under Steven Gerrard, he has blossomed into the type of player Bielsa loves to manage. He's learned the hard way that raw talent gets you nowhere unless you cover the yards and work for it.

His work rate was criticised at Liverpool and in the early part of his Rangers career, but Kent averaged 15.71 defensive pressures per game last season. That ranks up there with Leeds wingers who are renowned for their hard work; just ahead of Raphinha (15.17) and short of Harrison (19.95).

Raphinha, Jack Harrison, Rodrigo Moreno
Raphinha and Harrison are central to Leeds / Stu Forster/Getty Images

With 13 goals and 15 assists last season, it's obvious Kent would bring a serious creative presence to Elland Road. And while Leeds aren't short of creativity in the wide positions, Kent brings something different to the table.

He could be compared to Raphinha in terms of his dribbling, pace and direct running, but Kent's real strength lies in how hard it is to get the ball from him. When Alfredo Morelos is absent, Kent is Rangers' outlet; they know once they give him the ball, he'll cling onto it like an NFL running back and get it up the park.

And when he gets up the park h usually makes something happen, as his 55 goal-involvements in three seasons at Rangers will attest.

It's testament to Kent's development that Leeds' recruitment team, who have so rarely got it wrong in recent seasons, are refusing to drop his scent. He's had to wait patiently for his chance to revive his career, but when it came along in Scotland, he has grabbed it with both hands, and it likely won't be long before we see him back in the Premier League.

Leeds may just be the club best placed to offer him a route back, but with Rangers doing all they can to cling onto their attacking talisman for now, it will depend on how much they want him.


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