Like a bolt out of the blue, there were rumours pouring around social media that Leeds United were in the hunt for a French attacking midfielder from Sporting Lisbon with a €60m release clause in his contract. Immediate thoughts were of Peter Ridsdale dancing outside the ground waving a big, fat chequebook and signing up passers-by.
He was pictured skulking at the back of the official arrival photograph of the Leeds United squad as their Ireland tour began. In what was the most obvious game of ‘Where’s Wally?’, Leeds fans began asking ‘Who’s That?’ It wasn’t long before it was reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) and confirmed in two Phil Hay Tweets (below), the Sporting Lisbon youngster has signed as a White.
Leeds United seal the signing of 22-year-old forward Hadi Sacko on a season-long loan from Sporting Lisbon. #lufclive
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) July 5, 2016
Leeds say Hadi Sacko is joining them with a view to a permanent deal. #lufclive
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) July 5, 2016
Nothing was really known about youngster Sacko, other than what could be gleaned from the various football websites scattered around the Internet. Information such as that he came through the Bordeaux youth system and that he had a half-season on loan at AC Le Havre before Sporting Lisbon paid £750,000 to take the youngster from French football into the Portugeuse top tier.
After spending 18 months in Sporting’s set-up, Sacko went back to France and Ligue 2 football with FC Sochaux – only returning to Lisbon three days ago. To date, he has only made four appearances for Sporting’s first team in the TAÇA CTT, totalling just 77 minutes. The majority of his footballing experience has come in the Ledman Liga Pro with Sporting’s B side. With them Sacko has played 54 games, scoring 10 times and providing five assists for teammates.
Last season he made 37 appearances (23 for Sporting B – 3 goals/2 assists; 14 for Sochaux – 2 goals/1 assist). One of the games he played and scored in for Sochaux was their shock 2-1 Coupe de France last-16 victory over glamour side Monaco.
However, his perfomance in the 60 minutes that he was given on Wednesday night in the 2-1 victory over Shelboune, where he scored a goal, and in the 30 minutes in today’s 3-0 defeat of Shelbourne have really raised his profile with Leeds United fans.
Hadi Sacko Tweets his anticipation – Leeds fans respond in kind
Leeds fan Mark praises Sacko and says that goals should be put away for a rainy day.
This Leeds fan echoes Sacko’s anticipation of the upcoming league campaign.
neither can we old boy ! MOT
— Andy Jessop (@AndyCJessop) July 16, 2016
Leeds fan Simon wants to see the exciting youngster tear up the Championship.
let's rip this leauge apart. Get back to the promise land.
— Simon (@bulmer_simon) July 16, 2016
Andy simply lets Sacko know that his true Leeds experience will only begin once he experiences the Elland Road atmosphere.
great stuff. Keep it going. Wait till you play at elland road👏
— andy barker (@andybarker18) July 16, 2016
Leeds fan Altay doesn’t just welcome Sacko to the club, but to the wider ethos the fans belong to.
Leeds have three upcoming friendlies against markedly stronger opponents in Guiseley, Peterborough and Atalanta. Leeds United fans will no doubt once again be looking for the energy and drive that Sacko possesses to be shown in these games, games where he will no doubt feature a lot. Then, and only then, will they be able to strengthen the feeling that they may have something special on their hands.