BBC Sport pundit Noel Whelan has slammed Leeds United Director of Football Victor Orta for signing Jean-Kevin Augustin and not Callum Robinson during the January transfer window.
United were obliged to take action and acquire another senior centre-forward in the winter market, after Arsenal’s decision to recall Eddie Nketiah left Patrick Bamford as Marcelo Bielsa’s only recognised option at Elland Road.
The club had spent much of the mid-season window longing to sign Southampton’s Che Adams amid his struggles to adapt to life in the Premier League, but were continually turned away by the Saints and eventually landed Augustin on loan.
Our deal with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig saw Augustin move to West Yorkshire for the remainder of the season, after which we will be required to purchase him for €21million (£17.4m) should Bielsa clinch promotion into the Premier League.
Augustin is yet to repay that faith with any goals or assists, and is yet to start a Championship fixture with each of the Frenchman’s three outings to date coming from the bench. He had also only started two of his ten Ligue 1 appearances for AS Monaco before his loan spell in the Principality was cut short.
The 22-year-old only being able to play a bit-part role in our promotion push has infuriated Whelan, who feels Orta ought to have targeted Robinson before he joined title-rivals West Bromwich Albion on loan from Sheffield United.
Who would you have preferred Orta signed in January?
“I think we missed a trick in not signing him,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He knows the league, a good strong player, West Brom saw it and we did not.
“You want a player that is ready to come straight in and play. There is one right there and we have got someone called Augustin, who has played three games in eight months.
“He is not up to speed, not match fit. There is a lot of work in progress. How much can we get out of him between now and the end of the season? Robinson is hitting the ground running [while] Augustin is still getting his fitness and that is not helping us.
“We need a player like Robinson – ready to go and banging goals in. They got the upper hand on that. They signed a player ready [for action].”
Robinson has featured four times in the Championship for West Brom since joining Slaven Bilic’s Hawthorns natives last month, with each outing coming as part of the starting line-up.
The 25-year-old has also found the back of the net, having struck the opening effort in West Brom’s 2-2 draw with Play-Off hopefuls Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
It was the Northampton-born striker’s third of the season across all competitions after two strikes for parent side Sheffield United, for whom he had started nine of his 16 Premier League games before leaving in a temporary deal – thus having the match-sharpness that Whelan is adamant Bielsa needed from whoever Orta acquired in January.
In other Leeds United news, the agent of a vital Whites player has discussed claims relating to a potential summer transfer for his client.