The words ‘January transfer window’ are enough to send shivers down the spine of any Leeds United fan.
Over the past 15 years, Leeds regularly reached the winter window looking for a boost in quality to inspire a surge up the table over the second half of the season. More often than not, they’ve failed.
We’ve taken a look back at Leeds’ last 17 January transfer signings, which surprisingly only takes you as far back as 2017 due to the large influx of players that arrived during Victor Orta’s first season as director of football.
Garry Monk is not the most popular man at Elland Road (or anywhere) but deserves credit for keeping Hernandez’s number on speed dial after leaving Swansea City, with the former Spain international’s loan move from Al-Arabi being made permanent in January 2017.
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A completely forgettable signing who is only remembered for the fact that Massimo Cellino has since claimed the deal was brokered behind his back by Garry Monk’s agent James Featherstone.
Given Barrow’s lack of impact at Elland Road, it’s almost tempting to see Cellino’s attempts to block the loan move as a moment of rare clarity from the Italian. Actually, it’s because the superstitious lunatic thinks Barrow’s No.17 shirt is unlucky.
In July 2020, the winger joined South Korean
used car salesmen football club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors after three years at Reading, during which he scored a late winner against Leeds at Elland Road in October 2017. His squad number that day? No.17. Hang on a minute…
In our rating of every single one of Leeds’ 112 loan signings during the wilderness years, Rob Conlon wrote of Pedraza: ‘An obvious touch of class, a nice beard, an option to join permanently in an £8.5million deal if we got promoted – this could have been glorious.
‘Given Pedraza was a 20-year-old with no experience of English football at a time when Leeds needed proven quality, put him down as the right signing at the wrong time. He’s got ‘£12million transfer to Watford’ written all over him.’
After returning to Villarreal, Pedraza has spent a further two spells out on loan at Alaves and Real Betis and is now an established regular in La Liga.
With Europa League experience, Spain Under-21 honours and a name you just about recognise, we’re still confident of that move to Watford.
READ: A Leeds United fan ludicrously rated all 112 loan signings since relegation
The fourth Finnish player to sign for Leeds, Halme followed in the footsteps of club legends Seb Sorsa, Mika Vayrynen and Mikael Forssell (yes, he did play for Leeds – don’t worry, it’s understandable if you have no recollection).
Halme arrived as a young defender from HJK Helsinki and suffered a serious injury in one of his early training sessions at Leeds, leading to nine months on the sidelines.
Upon his return, he featured five times under Marcelo Bielsa in all competitions before joining Barnsley on a permanent deal, where he is best known for being bullied by Gjanni Alioski in the tunnel prior to Leeds’ 2-0 win at Oakwell in 2019-20.
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We once witnessed Ideguchi remain an unused substitute in a pre-season friendly at Guiseley in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was one of the saddest things we’ve ever seen.
You could be forgiven for thinking Leeds signed Ideguchi just to ruin the midfielder’s life. He had shone in helping Japan qualify for the 2018 World Cup and agreed to join the Peacocks six months ahead of the tournament. Immediately sent on loan to Cultural Leonesa, he failed to establish himself in Spain’s second tier and missed out on Japan’s World Cup squad as a result.
To add injury to insult, Ideguchi was then loaned out to Geuther Furth the following season, where he suffered a serious knee injury and played just seven times.
Still only 24, Ideguchi is now back at Gamba Osaka, the club from which Leeds signed him. Remarkably, Leeds managed to turn a profit on the transfer.
Laurens de Bock
After it quickly became apparent Vurnon Anita was not going to be the answer at left-back, Leeds spent £1.5million on landing De Bock from Club Brugge, with the player appearing to be of a good pedigree having previously been on the fringes of the senior Belgium squad.
But De Bock played just seven times for Leeds, with his penultimate appearance going down in folklore for being such a clusterf*ck.
Remarkably, he’s still technically a Leeds player, albeit spending the season on loan at Zulte Waregem – his fourth loan move in four years at Elland Road.
Hearing Leeds had signed a promising young attacking midfielder called Sarkic from Benfica sounded pretty exciting in 2018, at least until you realised he’s actually from Grimsby.
Sarkic can now be found playing not very regularly at Blackpool, a city with so many similarities to Lisbon.
One of the few players to actually look like a competent footballer in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign, Forshaw has been incredibly unlucky with injuries since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa, who was quick to highlight the midfielder’s talents in his first pre-season as Leeds boss.
Forshaw hasn’t played for Leeds since September 2019 due to a troublesome hip injury that eventually required surgery and has supposedly been on the verge of a comeback for the last six months to no avail.
READ: ‘F*ck it, I’m getting stuck in’: An oral history of Leeds 2-1 Bristol Rovers, 2010
After Dalby made his senior Leyton Orient debut as a 16-year-old, Leeds looked to have pulled off a coup in securing the striker’s signature in January 2018, with the player having previously been on trial at Premier League outfit Crystal Palace.
He failed to make an appearance for Leeds and was sent out on loan to League Two Morecambe, where he played just twice, before somehow earning a move to then-top-flight side Watford, where he has made a solitary substitute appearance in an FA Cup defeat to Tranmere.
Signed alongside dozens of other names during the 2017-18 season, the jury was out as to whether Struijk would ever make the step up to the first team or just fill out the youth ranks.
As a regular for Carlos Corberan’s Under-23s, the young Dutchman had the composure on the ball that you might expect of a former Ajax academy player, featuring regularly as they won the Professional Development League Group North in 2018-19.
But this time last year, few would have expected him to feature regularly in the Premier League for Leeds, with one of only two brief appearances for the first team an inauspicious cameo, which saw him culpable as Cardiff rounded off a three-goal comeback to make it 3-3 at Elland Road.
Bielsa kept his faith in the youngster and caused palpations among the fanbase by throwing Struijk back in at the deep end as a defensive midfielder as Leeds were put under serious pressure in the promotion run-in against Barnsley, holding onto a narrow 1-0 lead.
Ever since then he’s looked a valuable member of the squad, with increased opportunities this season amid a raft of defensive injuries.
Some have suggested that the Wales international might be better served by a loan away, having rarely got a consistent run of starts during Bielsa’s time at Leeds.
He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s only recently turned 22 and made some vital contributions during his three years at the club and has looked particularly bright deputising for Patrick Bamford as a back-up striker in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old former Forest Green winger saw his development stunted by a six-week ban from training after being found guilty of betting offences by the FA.
He was on the periphery last term, being thrown on by Bielsa on a handful of occasions after Jack Clarke had been recalled by Tottenham and before Ian Poveda settled in, but struggled to make a big impact.
He’s now in his second loan away this season, staying local at Bradford City after a short stint at Swindon.
Tipped as one to watch for the future after signing from his boyhood club Ruch Chorzow in January 2019, Poland Under-21 international Bogusz immediately caught the eye with some bright performances for the Under-23s.
He featured alongside the first team for a pre-season tour of Australia, scoring the opener with a well-taken effort against Western Sydney Wanderers, but competitive appearances were few and far between from there.
Having made his league debut off the bench as Leeds saw out a 4-0 victory over Charlton on the final day of last season, he’s since made a somewhat leftfield loan move away to Spanish second-tier side Logrones.
“He’s probably going to be better than me,” according to his compatriot Mateusz Klich.
Let’s not even f*cking go there.
READ: Leeds United, racism, and the fanzine which forced change at Elland Road
The nippy winger had only made a handful of first-team appearances after joining on a free transfer from Man City during the promotion-winning campaign, but already looks a lively and well-liked member of the senior squad.
In the Premier League, he’s become one of Bielsa’s go-to options when he wants to switch things up on the wings, which is an impressive feat considering that’s come with £16million signing Helder Costa left on the bench.
He also looks like he really, really enjoys playing for Leeds, which is nice.
Three substitute appearances, 49 minutes played, no goals, no assists. One tribunal, and seemingly three clubs that don’t really want him.
Yet to make a first-team appearance for Leeds, with Casilla playing back-up to Meslier, the 19-year-old Italian is continuing his development with the Under-23s after arriving from Chievo a year ago.
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