BBC Sport pundit Noel Whelan has hinted at Marcelo Bielsa eying Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic as an upgrade on Leeds United ace Patrick Bamford.
Whelan is vigorous in his stance that Bielsa will need a different type of player to 26-year-old Bamford next season if we are able to secure promotion into the Premier League, and would laud a chase for Mitrovic as the ideal solution.
The Cottagers hitman has flourished in the Championship this season after a less-than-stellar campaign in the top-flight last term, which saw the 25-year-old only convert 11 of his 131 shots into goals. This year, though, Mitrovic has scored a second-tier high 23 goals from 131 shots in 34 games.
Fulham will likely be reticent to lose Mitrovic in the summer, irrespective of their promotion efforts, having resisted interest from West Ham and Crystal Palace last summer after placing a £30million asking price on the 55-cap Serbian.
Whelan would support Director of Football Victor Orta going to Craven Cottage with a higher bid in 2020 in hopes of signing Mitrovic if we do secure top-flight football, though.
“Do we want more tried and tested? Do we want a different style of player? I would be looking at Mitrovic,” Whelan told Football Insider.
“He has got the fight and the scoring ability and capability of being a difference. Someone who is a handful, someone a bit bigger and stronger. He is better from wide areas and that is where the majority of our play comes from. I think Mitrovic would be one that Leeds will be looking at.
“They paid £27million for him and for £35million, it would be a good capture. He is a proven goalscorer, can hold the ball up and he would love the number of crosses we put in the box.”
Fulham selling Mitrovic to us this summer at the £30m figure demanded last year would represent a profit of around £3m, having signed Mitrovic from Newcastle for a then-reported £22m in 2018 and awarded him a £60,000-per-week contract.
But after the performances he has produced in 2019/20, Scott Parker’s side will likely be even more reluctant to sell if they do fall short in their hunt for another season in the top-flight.
Mitrovic’s league-high 23 goals account for 44% of Fulham’s total 52 strikes in the second-tier this term, highlighting his importance at Craven Cottage the most as no player in the division boasts a greater contribution rate.
Would you back a move to sign Mitrovic this summer?
Would Fulham be open to selling that level of importance for another £5m? That remains to be seen, as replacing those goals whilst in the Championship would be a challenge as players eye top-flight moves.
Last season’s leading goalscorers Teemu Pukki (29 in 43 games) made the step up to the Premier League with Norwich, Neal Maupay (25 in 42) joined Brighton from Brentford for £16m and Tammy Abraham (25 in 37) returned to Chelsea from his loan spell with Aston Villa and has gone on to start 23 of his 25 top-flight games this term whilst scoring 13 times.
In other Leeds United news, the club’s plans to sign a £5m ace will not be enough, according to one of our former players.