So close, yet too far it was for Leeds United and their fans after an exciting season ended last Wednesday with a 4-3 aggregate loss against Derby in the Championship Play-Off Semi-Final.
It brought the curtain down on a campaign that started out as a flurry of exciting, flowing football in which good teams were taken apart by a Marcelo Bielsa inspired Leeds United outfit who simply marauded forward seemingly at will.
Whilst heart rates were raised by the free-flowing football at the beginning of the season, it was the usual Leeds post-Christmas football hangover that brought the onset of raised heartbeats in 2019.
Still, it was a season carried through plague-like injury pandemics and a 3rd place finish achieved on the back of Bielsa turning last season’s underachieving 13th place side into something special. The core of that side was augmented with selected loan players; one of those was Manchester City’s Jack Harrison.
Harrison recently thanked the club, saying his goodbyes as he left Elland Road to return to the Citizens. joined on a season-long loan from treble winners Manchester City. He featured in 37 appearances for the Whites, scoring four goals and providing three assists.
Some fans weren’t entirely convinced with his level of consistency, yet the major thought on that comes down to the fact that Marcelo Bielsa placed a lot of trust in the Stoke-born youngster – Harrison playing 60% of the available minutes and being named in 70% of the starting XIs.
Now The Sun’s Daniel Cutts is saying that the Whites are interested in bringing him back on loan next season, but that Manchester City aren’t interested in a temporary deal. They want a permanent deal, and at some cost – Cutts saying that City “value him between £15m and £20m.”
The Sun article goes on to say that Harrison was “one of the star players under Marcelo Bielsa” before continuing to add that Leeds are “desperate to land him full-time next season.”
Well, I’d like to take a step back a moment, gather my thoughts and then make a considered retort. I can’t, I. Just. Cannot.
£15m-£20m “priced out” for Harrison – I believe in the football Gods
This is not a pop at Jack Harrison, not at all. It’s more a case of a Sun journalist needing to pop by his boss’ office and asking if it’s OK to pop out for a bit to get some new specs. £15m-£20m, that’s a lot of the folding stuff in anyone’s money.
All that moolah, for what? Well Harrison brought with him four goals and three assists – that’s seven total contributions. Seven! By that reckoning then we’ve got Lionel Messi on our hands with Pablo Hernandez’s 12-goal/12-assist season.
Harrison was ‘alright’ in a jobbing sort of way, but he was no Pablo. He wasn’t even a Mateusz Klich with 10 goals and 9 assists. Where the hell the Sun got that he’d had “a successful campaign” I do not now. And as for the fact “his value has sky-rocketed” – I’m simply nonplussed.
So, if it means that Leeds United will miss out on paying upwards of £15m for a player the fans weren’t convinced with, well that’s a gift from the Gods. As a Yorkshireman, I’m as glib as a natural that we aren’t throwing brass after Jack Harrison.