Max Gradel could be in line for a sensational return to Elland Road as reports in west Yorkshire have emerged stating that Neil Warnock has made an enquiry for the Ivorian wide man.
French top-flight outfit St Etienne, who are in Europa League qualification contention, signed Gradel from Leeds in August 2011 and he has gone on to make 48 appearances in Le Championnat.
The 25-year-old enjoyed a more productive spell during his time at Leeds, however, bagging 22 goals in 63 appearances and, with the club in with a genuine chance of making a long-awaited return to the Premier League this term, he could be tempted to move back.
Furthermore, the foreign investment that has come into the club should see them able to afford the wages Gradel would require; Ken Bates’ reluctance/inability to cough up the funds that the winger deemed himself worthy of was a key factor behind his initial departure.
Since the expiration of Jerome Thomas’ loan-deal, Leeds have been short of a winger with genuine pace, flair and the ability to glide past defenders and his temporary acquisition was a huge contributor to Leeds’ rapid scaling of the Championship ladder.
They’ve only scored two goals since Thomas returned to West Brom and have simmered down somewhat in their play-off push. This exemplifies the need to draft in a like-for-like replacement and players in a mould akin to Gradel’s must be top of Warnock’s January wish list.
Having proved himself at the top level in France, as well as on the international stage, the need for haste in pushing the transfer through is imperative on Leeds’ behalf. There are sure to be several Premier League clubs who would take a player equipped with such sought-after attacking attributes were they aware of Gradel’s availability, obviously causing the Lilywhites’ stock to fall.
Should they thrash out a deal though, their chances of clinching promotion to the top-flight would be subject to a significant boost and it could be worth backing them early doors at long-odds of 12/1 while there’s still excellent value to be had.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date