Leeds United are going to need a replacement for Spanish stopper Kiko Casilla who looks increasingly unlikely to play for the Whites again after his ban for racially abusing Jonathan Leko. They have been linked with AEK Athens stopper Vassilis Barkas in the Greek media by SDNA but new interest from promotion challengers Brentford could scupper that says a more recent SDNA article.
It will be very hard for Casilla to come back after this ban, the last game of which was yesterday’s exciting win against Swansea City which extended their lead over the play-offs to six points. During his ban, United have been reliant on youngster Illan Meslier who has performed admirably. The 20-year-old French stopper is reliable but you’d have to question whether he could handle the cut and thrust of the Premier League at such a young age.
The earlier SDNA article pitted Leeds United against Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers, saying that it was Celitc leading the race over their city rivals. However, intriguingly, they also added that where the real interest is regarding Barkas “is in Leeds” where the Greek international “is said to be liked by [the] English club executives.” As an aside to this, and perhaps more importantly, they added that this interest [in Barkas] is liked “also by Bielsa himself.”
Now, the more recent SDNA article states that there is “mobility around Vassilis Barkas” and then goes on to mention that his “CV has reached Brentford.” They also mention that Brentford is “preparing to sell” their no1 goalkeeper David Raya.
Both Leeds United and Brentford have built their promotion tilts on a mean defence and solidity between the sticks. The Whites have conceded just 34 times this season, Brentford just 35 times. A further measure of this miserly attitude is that Leeds have kept 20 cleans sheets and Brentford’s David Raya 15.
The Daily Mail said earlier in July that Celtic had “lodged an enquiry” for Barkas and that they’d been quoted £5m, although SDNA say that AEK Athens are hopeful of a deal that reaches the £7.1m region. To be honest, both sides could do much worse in the transfer market than test the waters with a £5m bid on the 10-cap Greek international Barkas who kept 10 clean sheets in 20 appearances for AEK this season. Indeed, since arriving at the club he has kept an astonishing 58 clean sheets in just 106 games.