The Athletic‘s Phil Hay has name-dropped James Ward-Prowse as the kind of signing he’d love to see at Leeds United.
What’s the story?
The Southampton captain was linked with a move away from St Mary’s in the summer transfer window when reports emerged of interest from fellow Premier League side Aston Villa, but the England international stayed put.
Hay has now suggested that Ward-Prowse could be a great fit at Elland Road instead.
He said in a Q&A for The Athletic: “Ward-Prowse is a terrific player who will surely move on from Southampton eventually. The sort of player I’d like to see at Leeds. From what I’m told, Leeds don’t intend to go back for Nketiah.”
Imagine him and Kalvin Phillips
While Kalvin Phillips might currently be out injured, the prospect of seeing him line up with his England colleague in the Leeds engine room is surely mouth-watering.
The £100k-per-week ace would offer something that Leeds really missed last season – goals from midfield. The Saints star managed eight goals in the Premier League, as well as chipping in with seven assists, numbers which are far better than anything that Bielsa’s current options produced (Mateusz Klich was the closest with four strikes to his name).
As per FBRef.com, Ward-Prowse’s passes in the Premier League last season progressed for more than 10,000 yards, a real indication of how he is always looking to move things forward rather than keeping things simple.
That figure ranks him 49th in the entire division for 2020/21, a pretty impressive achievement considering that most of the players above him are goalkeepers and defenders – in terms of midfielders, only Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ashley Westwood, Rodri and Granit Xhaka exceeded the 26-year-old’s tally.
Having him alongside a deeper-lying playmaker like Phillips could see Leeds have the perfect blend of control and dynamism in midfield, with the former protecting the back four and setting up attacks, and Ward-Prowse getting further forward to offer a goal threat.
It would be a real dream midfield duo for Bielsa.