Amidst the incessant trundling noise made by the Leeds United Transfer Tombola™, there are players still on the books at Leeds United who have slipped under the radar so to speak. They haven’t been released, as evidenced by the publication of the club’s ‘retained list’ and neither have they been signed or spoken of since. Two players who fall into this ‘football limbo’ category of ‘here but forgotten about’ status are Brian Montenegro and Nicky Ajose.
Both these players share certain characteristics that would make them worth a preseason run out and a serious eye cast over them by Uwe Rösler and his new coaching staff. Montenegro and Ajose share a trait that Leeds were sorely lacking in last season…goals. Yes they scored at a lower league level (League One for Ajose) and lower team level (U21 Development squad for Montenegro) but they certainly know where the goal is. They also share another characteristic that would stand them in good stead in any league or competition in that they both have pace.
The ex-Manchester United youngster made fleeting appearances for Leeds after his signing at the start of the 2014/15 Championship campaign before he was deemed ‘out of favour’ and shipped out on a season-long loan to League One’s Crewe Alexandra. During his extended stay with The Railwaymen, Ajose netted eight goals (at a rate of a goal per 240 minutes) and laid on four goal assists. Ajose’s goal per 240 minutes of play indicates potential for around 17 goals per season, although playing at a higher level and against better calibre opponents would obviously need to be taken into account. However, the potential is there and it is up to the new coaching staff whether they wish to exploit this potential.
A failed attempt to ‘break’ English football with West Ham as an 18-year old didn’t hold out much hope for Leeds fans when his wonderfully-exotic name (his full name is Brian Guillermo Montenegro Martínez) was linked with the club. In truth, Leeds fans didn’t really get much of a chance to see him in action as he only made six first team appearances racking up a not-so-grand total of 109 minutes over the course of the 2014/15 Championship campaign. However, it was the performances that the 21-year old Paraguayan put in for Leeds U21 Development squad that caught the eye, where he finished as the team’s top scorer with 12 goals. Forwards who can score are like heavyweight boxers who can punch; the last thing the boxer loses is his power and likewise with a striker and their ability to put the ball in the net. Brian Montengro is on loan at Leeds until 30 June and the club have a ‘purchase option’ should they wish to cement a deal for him and a permanent transfer from Paraguayan side Nacional, Transfermarkt values him at £220,000.
The thing is, Uwe Rösler has come out and categorically claimed that the club will be playing a version of 4-3-3 that relies on speed, intensity and getting the ball up the top of the park as quickly as possible. In that respect both Nicky Ajose and Brian Montenegro fit the bill; they are also able to score goals, an added bonus. With Leeds supposedly set on buying Motherwell’s striker Lee Erwin, a forward whose 2014/15 Scottish Premier League scoring record (six goals) is hardly pulling up stumps, then goals are at a premium; in his defence Erwin did provide eight goal assists over the season. Whatever the permutations and combinations Leeds United settle on for next season, it might make sense for the ‘new brooms’ of Rösler et al to ‘sweep clean’ and re-evaluate those players who are already at the club.