Leeds United look set for a return to the Championship this summer following a disastrous 2023 which has seen two manager exits and one director of football parting ways.
Victor Orta was removed from his position on the Leeds board alongside Javi Gracia following the 4-1 defeat against Bournemouth in the Premier League, amid a number of disappointing signings from the Spaniard during his time at Elland Road.
Jean-Kevin Augustin and Georginio Rutter will stand out as the worst for obvious reasons, with Sam Allardyce failing to even recognise the club-record signing as a realistic striking option from the bench in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham United.
With Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo potentially both sidelined through injury for this weekend’s crunch game against Tottenham Hotspur – when their fate will be confirmed – the experienced Englishman will perhaps be wishing that he could have called upon one of Leeds’ brightest talents in Joe Gelhardt.
Should Leeds have loaned out Gelhardt?
Following the £35m signing of Rutter in January, it seemed clear that the former Wigan Athletic youngster wouldn’t get into the side with three more senior options ahead of him at Elland Road.
However, Rodrigo’s injury issues, Bamford’s poor form in front of goal and Rutter’s lack of minutes suggest that the West Yorkshire outfit may well have been better off keeping him at the club.
Since joining from Wigan in 2020, the young striker has gone on to make 41 appearances for the first team, contributing two goals and seven assists, while he also has 20 goals and six assists in just 31 games for the U21s.
Therefore, he clearly knows where the back of the net is and has already shown that he can have a positive impact in the Premier League, showcasing his impressive talent when winning a penalty against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2021.
Adrian Durham praised Gelhardt on talkSPORT at the time (via MOT Leeds News), saying: “Joe Gelhardt for Leeds, was astonishing at the weekend. What a player this kid is going to be.
“Joe Gelhardt rescued Leeds and Bielsa, he was brilliant. By the way, he should be involved in far more games.”
Unfortunately, Durham’s thoughts on the 21-year-old wouldn’t come to fruition, as he mustered just 201 minutes of Premier League action under Jesse Marsch before being sent on loan to Sunderland in the Championship.
There, he contributed three goals and three assists in 20 appearances, with a solid 6.72 rating from WhoScored – which is better than everyone bar Jack Harrison and Tyler Adams in the current Leeds squad.
Bamford, meanwhile, has managed just four goals in the top flight with a woeful 6.36 average rating, which is perhaps no surprise when you consider his recent misses in big games against Leicester City and Newcastle United.
The Englishman has proven himself to be extremely unreliable in front of goal, and had Orta kept Gelhardt at the club, it could have been him on the end of those chances instead of Bamford.
Given the attacking woes that Allardyce will have to deal with on the final day, he will surely be wishing that Gelhardt was still available for selection at Elland Road.