Leeds United’s summer transfer window plugged plenty of gaps that had been left by the mass exodus overseen, however despite the playing squad being sufficiently bolstered, it seems Daniel Farke is still unsure of his strongest side, and their favoured roles…
One startling example of this was his use of Joel Piroe in a deeper role against Sheffield Wednesday, despite having seemingly been signed as the answer to their striking woes.
How is Joel Piroe playing?
The Dutchman joined in a £10.5m deal back in late August, and upon being thrown into the starting lineup, scored one of four goals in their away demolition of Ipswich Town. A true poacher’s finish, his late arrival came at the right place, at the right time, and it seemed like the start of a fine relationship between player and club.
That was before his German manager saw fit to push him into midfield, sending Georginio Rutter to play ahead of him. This was despite the Frenchman having endured a largely profligate spell since making his club-record move in January, with just one senior goal to his name.
Unsurprisingly, this was an experiment that failed, with former Whites boss Neil Redfearn noting after their 0-0 draw: “I thought they were going to play four-four-two at first, like they did at Ipswich,” he told BBC Radio Leeds. “But obviously they played more of a midfield role for Piroe. I just thought he got lost in the game.
“When he got on the ball, I think he showed some nice touches. And then as the game degenerated, Sheffield Wednesday’s doing, getting bodies behind the ball, making it scrappy and breaking stuff up, his influence got less and less.”
As such, his average Sofascore rating in the Championship now sits at a lowly 6.78, with the hope that he can soon recapture the form that saw him record 19 and 22 league goals in the last two league campaigns respectively.
However, if Farke is to persist with such a role for Piroe, perhaps he could benefit by deploying another striker alongside him, to allow him to both push forward when needed, and create as well. Patrick Bamford anyone?
How good is Patrick Bamford?
Fortunately, the conclusion of this international break is expected to see Bamford return to fitness after another lengthy lay-off. Back before their opening-day clash, the former Norwich City boss had admitted: “Patrick Bamford has got a hamstring injury and won’t return before the first international break so he will definitely miss the next games.”
Although he endured a rough term most recently, he does have a rich history of finding the net regularly at this level, given his 20 goal contributions helped them earn promotion back in 2020, just one year after he had scored nine and assisted two as they came so close in the playoffs.
Then, upon returning to the Premier League, he reached new heights by scoring 17 and assisting eight, proving many wrong. Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard recounted Bamford’s earlier years at Chelsea, suggesting he always knew of his talent: “[He] clearly had great finishing ability and had an eye for goal from that early stages at Chelsea.”
However, it is his creativity that suggests he would shine in the proposed two-up-front system, as he too is just as willing to drop deep as he is to remain in the penalty box.
Given he was signed for just £7m back in 2018, the 30-year-old has been a loyal and useful servant to the club across his five years in Yorkshire.
Perhaps, if his body allows him, he could enjoy one late flourish of his career to help spearhead another promotion, forming a fine strike partnership with Piroe.