Leeds United Director of Football Victor Orta faces a growing battle to help Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion charge at Elland Road, as Newcastle forward Dwight Gayle will not be leaving St. James’ Park during the January window.
Toon boss Steve Bruce has revealed that the London-born striker has sustained a hamstring injury and could be ruled out of action until March, having already missed a large proportion of the campaign through a calf issue.
Bruce had previously been cagey to the prospect of selling Gayle during the mid-season market amid widespread interest in the Championship, with Nottingham Forest often said to have joined the Whites in courting the 29-year-old.
Despite Bruce’s opposition, the Newcastle hierarchy were thought to be open to loaning Gayle out for the remainder of the season, providing the move came with a £20million obligation to buy in the summer.
A January deal for Gayle, either permanent or on loan, now makes little sense with the former Crystal Palace man set to be sidelined for the next few weeks.
“With Dwight, it will be the bog-standard one [recovery period] between four to six weeks,” Bruce told reporters on Friday, via quotes by the Chronicle. “Not great news.
“It has been a huge disappointment – the whole thing has. He was injured in pre-season with a calf, then because the team did quite well he spent time on the bench.
“It’s a blow – but it is what it is.”
Would you have taken Gayle on a £20m loan-to-buy?
While Bruce sees Gayle being sidelined for potentially the next six weeks as a blow for his efforts at St. James’ Park, the news will also come as a setback for Orta at Elland Road, as there is now one fewer potential Premier League strikers for our Director of Football to target.
United are said to still be ‘very active’ in search of new attacking firepower this month after Arsenal recalled Eddie Nketiah, but have already seen hopes of signing Southampton’s Che Adams dashed.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has all but ruled out a January switch for his side’s £15m summer signing, noting that the striker is happy on the south coast and is not interested in moving away from St. Mary’s.
Given we are now more than halfway through the winter market, Orta should have finalised a deal to sign Nketiah’s replacement – or at least have a transfer on the cusp of completion – but instead, the wait is rolling on and on.
We only need one injury to Bamford like which Gayle has sustained for our promotion challenge to face a major challenge, given how instrumental he has been to our campaign so far.
Bamford has taken a vast majority of our shots in the Championship so far this season, is our leading goalscorer and offers the team a focal point to build from – criteria which hampered Nketiah’s involvement before returning to Arsenal.
In other Leeds United news, the club are claimed to be mulling over a bid to sign a towering £3million star this month.