The battle for the number one spot at Elland Road could be about to get a lot more competitive.
Football Insider are reporting that Leeds are set to make a run at Newcastle’s Karl Darlow. Clearly seen as the backup behind Slovakian international Martin Dubravka, Darlow only started one game last year, their 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. Whether or not Darlow would be coming in to challenge for the number one spot or simply continue his role as a backup is unknown at this point, and that’s the issue I have with this potential signing.
I have spoken before about how precarious the Leeds United goalkeeper position is. In the piece, I spoke about the American football phrase ‘if you have two quarterbacks, you have none’. The logic behind the phrase dictates that if you have two players competing for the same position who are roughly equal ability and both have an equal chance of making the starting lineup, then you’re going to spend too long fixating over which one starts. This then leads you to share the job between them and not having an established number one.
It looks as if Bielsa has gone some way in trying to address that problem by looking to offload Kiko Casilla. However, I fear that Bielsa could be addressing this the wrong way.
At 28-years-old, Karl Darlow is still at an age where he should be in contention to be a first choice goalkeeper, not resigned to being the wily old veteran goalkeeper who is happy to sit in the bench, pick up a weekly wage and maybe come in once a season in a cup competition if he’s lucky. Similar to how Chelsea had Rob Green and Manchester City had Richard Wright all those years ago.
That brings me back to the problem I pointed out at the start. If Kiko Casilla does move on, then that leaves the club with Karl Darlow and Bailey Peacock-Farrell fighting it out for the number one spot. If Bielsa had agreed to let Casilla go and bring in, let’s say for the sake of argument Michel Vorm or Anders Lindegaard on a free transfer and put in Peacock-Farrell as the first choice goalkeeper, I’d have found that a perfectly reasonable transfer.