The Relaxed Rebuild: Leeds United Are Trusting Jesse Marsch To Transform The Team

A relegation-threatened team losing their two best players is a recipe for disaster. But Leeds aren't worried
16:05, 05 Jul 2022

Leeds United need a massive rebuild this summer. It’s a fact that has gone underreported, despite the fact the club have lost one of their best players and look set to lose another. 

Kalvin Phillips has already done the rounds clad in Manchester City blue, appearing in the obligatory announcement videos confirming his transfer on social media. Raphinha will likely be doing the same in the near future, though the colour of the kit he’ll be wearing in his own online content reveal remains to be seen.

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Leeds found themselves in a relegation battle for much of last season, escaping by the skin of their teeth in 17th. But despite an already-struggling team being stripped of its two greatest assets, the mood around the club seems remarkably relaxed.

This is not to say work isn’t being done. Moves are being made, and they carry the fingerprints of manager Jesse Marsch. The American has plundered former club RB Salzburg for Brenden Aaronsen and Rasmus Kristensen. Bayern Munich’s underutilised midfielder Marc Roca has signed on the dotted line too. Darko Gyabi quietly joined from City too, though the 18-year-old is expected to initially turn out in the youth set-up.

There are set to be more additions too. Marsch has seemingly been entrusted with a large say in Leeds’ transfer business, as USMNT international and RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams is on the verge of completing a move. Talks are also underway for Feyenoord’s Columbian international winger Luis Sinisterra. 

So everything will be fine right? Leeds are bringing in a multitude of players to replace what they’ve lost, plus a few extra on top. But the rebuild will need to go deeper than signing a few Red Bull-approved prospects and an Eredivisie starlet. Leeds will be competing in a tougher division than they were last season, with the clubs around them strengthening. They are also joined by Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest. Those clubs will present new challenges, and come into the division in rude health.

england star kalvin phillips will be sorely missed at elland road
england star kalvin phillips will be sorely missed at elland road

The interesting thing about Leeds’ rebuild, apart from how quiet talk of their incomings has been compared to the fanfare surrounding their high-profile outgoings, is the vision behind it. Under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds were a club tailored to the needs and wants of one man. An unusual step at a time when “football department” is the buzz-phrase to encompass a litany of jobs that used to make up the singular role of manager. But in the same way they committed to Bielsa’s vision, Leeds’ transfer business this summer suggests they are looking to build the team in their manager’s image. Marsch has leveraged his contacts and knowledge of American talent and the Red Bull network to conduct his transfer business. 

While Leeds’ problems, and their attempted solutions, are barely being mentioned in comparison to the storm around the potential sale of Raphinha, they are there. A squad that was almost relegated last season would have needed major surgery anyway. Without Raphinha and Phillips they need a complete rebuild. That rebuild is underway, albeit in a disarmingly calm manner. What remains to be seen is whether it will be enough to keep Premier League football at Elland Road in the years to come.

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