Leeds United were forced into a huge midfield overhaul in the summer, with the unfortunate departure of Kalvin Phillips leaving Jesse Marsch with a huge influx of money but a gaping hole in his engine room.
The Elland Road academy graduate had earned praise for his combative yet classy performances in the heart of midfield, breaking up play and boasting the technical ability to spray passes to set his team on the attack.
Clearly viewing Phillips’ role as too important for a like-for-like replacement, Marsch instead opted to share the midfield workload between both Marc Roca and Tyler Adams, who are both among the Whites’ top five players this season according to Sofascore ratings.
Leeds could now be set to add another player into the fold who might boast the creative capabilities to complete their midfield and offer the perfect balance.
However, Victor Orta will need to wait to begin his pursuit, as Abdelhamid Sabiri still has a World Cup semi-final to play with Morocco.
The north African nation have been the surprise package of the competition, making history as the first team from their continent to reach this stage, whilst not conceding a single goal from an opposition player.
The Whites are one of many clubs reportedly interested in the 26-year-old Sampdoria ace, who will be available next month for a fee of €10m (£8.6m).
Dubbed a “great talent” by his former youth coach Daniel Meisinger, it is clear that despite his role being limited to cameo appearances, the Moroccan has still more than made his mark on this historic World Cup run.
It was his “clever” assist from a free kick – as dubbed by Statman Dave – which helped them to take the lead against Belgium, and despite averaging just 33 minutes per game, he still has recorded 0.8 shots and 0.8 key passes per match and a 6.8 average rating for his overall performances, via Sofascore.
He also scored in their penalty shootout win over Spain, highlighting his confidence to put himself in the firing line on the biggest stage.
To add this alongside Adams (who ranks in the top 7% for tackles and blocks among positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues) and Roca (who ranks in the top 8% for progressive passes) could be the final piece to complete the Leeds midfield.
Although Sabiri has been somewhat underwhelming domestically, with just three goal contributions for Sampdoria this season, he does maintain an impressive average of one key pass per game.
It would mark a shrewd signing with little risk, and it could boast the reward of extra midfield security and a fine foundation from which to build.
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