Hadi Sacko crept on to the team photograph on this pre-season just gone’s tour of Ireland. Instantly fans were asking who the snazzy-haired, blonde-streaked youngster was skulking around at the back.
It wasn’t long before news broke that Leeds United had managed to snag the much-vaunted flying Frenchman from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon. He was highly thought of when Sporting paid £850,000 for the exciting, and rapid youngster who had been turning heads for FC Girondins Bordeaux.
He came with more than just jet-heeled pace, he also sported a release clause in his Sporting contract that was a reported €60m (£56.5m), that sort of fee being de rigeur for the top-class players going to Premier League teams.
After the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at the end of December, Sacko was quoted as saying that he was adjusting to the English game, feeling as though he was finally fitting in better. according to an article in French publication Sud Ouest, Sacko opened up on his time at Leeds, saying he was “starting to become a real Englishman.”
Questioned back then by the French publication on his time at Leeds, Sacko said that “everything is going well,” saying that he felt English football suits him due to the nature of the game here. Mentioning the way the game is played, the Corbeil-Essonnes born forward said: “it is football with plenty of space. I imagined that would suit me.”
Suit him it has, the 22-year-old, in a half-season, overtook the 51 successful dribbles achieved by Leeds’ Lewis Cook last season, completing his 52nd dribble at Villa Park. Over the sum of his Leeds appearances (38 – average 62 minutes) during this campaign, Sacko managed a team-leading 67 completed dribbled – as well as scoring two goals and providing three assists.
But rather tantalisingly, with Leeds United yet to release their ‘retained list’ for next season, Sacko has posted the following to Twitter.
— Hadi Sacko (@miimosaa) May 8, 2017
Aside from the platitudes, it is the carefully selected wording which indicates that Sacko hasn’t been informed where his future lies, nor what it involves. It is likely that it will be ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and he will be allowed to go back to Sporting, to continue his football either there or elsewhere.
Intriguingly, in the Sud Ouest article from the back end of December 2016, Sacko said that his permanent transfer wouldn’t cost the Earth for Leeds. Sacko brought up the issue of the big release clause saying that: “the two clubs have agreed on a purchase option that is acceptable, much lower than the release clause on my arrival at Sporting. If Leeds decide to buy me, it will not cost so much.”
But that’s not the intriguing part of what Hadi Sacko has posted, not by a long shot. What is interesting is his choice of parting words – with the Frenchman himself admitting that he’s not sure whether it’s a case of goodbye and thanks (adieu) or goodbye but I’ll be back (au revoir).
It wouldn’t cost the Earth to bring him in to Leeds United permanently, but it just depends whether the incoming regime at Elland Road see it as ground worth going over again. The retained list will be the answer to that and whether it’s a permanent goodbye from the young Frenchman to his time in West Yorkshire.