The words ‘January transfer window’ are enough to send shivers down the spine of any Leeds United fan.
Over the past 15 years, Leeds regularly reached the winter window looking for a boost in quality to inspire a surge up the table over the second half of the season. More often than not, they’ve failed.
We’ve taken a look back at Leeds’ last 18 January transfer signings, which surprisingly only takes you as far back as 2017 due to the large influx of players that arrived during Victor Orta’s first season as director of football.
Garry Monk is not the most popular man at Elland Road (or anywhere) but deserves credit for keeping Hernandez’s number on speed dial after leaving Swansea City, with the former Spain international’s loan move from Al-Arabi being made permanent in January 2017.
Leeds United’s most inspired player since their relegation from the Premier League in 2004. He departed to join Spanish lower-league side Castellon – a club he part-owns – at the end of the 2020-21 season, receiving a hero’s goodbye at Elland Road.
A beautiful footballer.
Start your day right by watching Pablo Hernandez bang one in against West Brom after 16 seconds.
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) September 30, 2020
A completely forgettable signing who is only remembered for the fact that Massimo Cellino has since claimed the deal was brokered behind his back by Garry Monk’s agent James Featherstone.
Given Barrow’s lack of impact at Elland Road, it’s almost tempting to see Cellino’s attempts to block the loan move as a moment of rare clarity from the Italian. Actually, it’s because the superstitious lunatic thinks Barrow’s No.17 shirt is unlucky.
In July 2020, the winger joined South Korean
used car salesmen football club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors after three years at Reading, during which he scored a late winner against Leeds at Elland Road in October 2017. His squad number that day? No.17. Hang on a minute…
In our rating of every single one of Leeds’ 112 loan signings during the wilderness years, Rob Conlon wrote of Pedraza: ‘An obvious touch of class, a nice beard, an option to join permanently in an £8.5million deal if we got promoted – this could have been glorious.
‘Given Pedraza was a 20-year-old with no experience of English football at a time when Leeds needed proven quality, put him down as the right signing at the wrong time. He’s got ‘£12million transfer to Watford’ written all over him.’
After returning to Villarreal, Pedraza has spent a further two spells out on loan at Alaves and Real Betis and is now an established regular in La Liga.
With Europa League experience, Spain Under-21 honours and a name you just about recognise, we’re still confident of that move to Watford.
The fourth Finnish player to sign for Leeds, Halme followed in the footsteps of club legends Seb Sorsa, Mika Vayrynen and Mikael Forssell (yes, he did play for Leeds – don’t worry, it’s understandable if you have no recollection).
Halme arrived as a young defender from HJK Helsinki and suffered a serious injury in one of his early training sessions at Leeds, leading to nine months on the sidelines.
Upon his return, he featured five times under Marcelo Bielsa in all competitions before joining Barnsley on a permanent deal, where he is best known for being bullied by Gjanni Alioski in the tunnel prior to Leeds’ 2-0 win at Oakwell in 2019-20.
— leeds Utd Fan (@LUFCfanForever) July 13, 2020
We once witnessed Ideguchi remain an unused substitute in a pre-season friendly at Guiseley in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was one of the saddest things we’ve ever seen.
You could be forgiven for thinking Leeds signed Ideguchi just to ruin the midfielder’s life. He had shone in helping Japan qualify for the 2018 World Cup and agreed to join the Peacocks six months ahead of the tournament. Immediately sent on loan to Cultural Leonesa, he failed to establish himself in Spain’s second tier and missed out on Japan’s World Cup squad as a result.
To add injury to insult, Ideguchi was then loaned out to Geuther Furth the following season, where he suffered a serious knee injury and played just seven times.
After returning to Gamba Osaka for 18 months, Ideguchi is back in the UK, having joined Celtic in January 2022. We really hope this move works out better for him.
Laurens de Bock
After it quickly became apparent Vurnon Anita was not going to be the answer at left-back, Leeds spent £1.5million on landing De Bock from Club Brugge, with the player appearing to be of a good pedigree having previously been on the fringes of the senior Belgium squad.
But De Bock played just seven times for Leeds, with his penultimate appearance going down in folklore for being such a clusterf*ck.
Remarkably, he’s still technically a Leeds player, albeit spending the season on loan at Zulte Waregem – his fifth loan move in five years at Elland Road.
Hearing Leeds had signed a promising young attacking midfielder called Sarkic from Benfica sounded pretty exciting in 2018, at least until you realised he’s actually from Grimsby.
Sarkic can now be found playing not very regularly at Blackpool, a city with so many similarities to Lisbon.
One of the few players to actually look like a competent footballer in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign, Forshaw has been incredibly unlucky with injuries since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa, who was quick to highlight the midfielder’s talents in his first pre-season as Leeds boss.
The midfielder spent almost two full years out sidelined with a serious hip injury before making a miraculous and remarkable return in 2021-22.
Forshaw has arguably been Leeds’ best midfielder this season and has recently been rewarded with a well-earned contract extension.
After Dalby made his senior Leyton Orient debut as a 16-year-old, Leeds looked to have pulled off a coup in securing the striker’s signature in January 2018, with the player having previously been on trial at Premier League outfit Crystal Palace.
He failed to make an appearance for Leeds and was sent out on loan to League Two Morecambe, where he played just twice, before somehow earning a move to Watford, where he made a solitary substitute appearance in an FA Cup defeat to Tranmere.
In 2021 he joined National League side Southend United.
Signed alongside dozens of other names during the 2017-18 season, the jury was out as to whether Struijk would ever make the step up to the first team or just fill out the youth ranks.
As a regular for Carlos Corberan’s Under-23s, the young Dutchman had the composure on the ball that you might expect of a former Ajax academy player, featuring regularly as they won the Professional Development League Group North in 2018-19.
Few would have expected him to feature regularly in the Premier League for Leeds, having played such a peripheral role for the club during their time in the Championship.
But Bielsa kept his faith in the youngster and now he looks arguably the club’s best centre-backs and most valuable assets. Destined for a bright future, the only question is whether he goes on to represent Belgium or the Netherlands.
Some have suggested that the Wales international might be better served by a loan away, having rarely got a consistent run of starts during Bielsa’s time at Leeds.
It’s worth remember that he’s only recently turned 23 and made some vital contributions during his three years at the club.
Roberts has had his fair share of critics, with plenty of gametime spent deputising for the injured Patrick Bamford in 2021-22, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. 2022 could be a make-or-break year for the forward.
The 20-year-old former Forest Green winger saw his development stunted by a six-week ban from training after being found guilty of betting offences by the FA.
He ended up making a handful of first-team appearances under Bielsa, playing in the promotion-winning campaign after Jack Clarke had been recalled by Tottenham and before Ian Poveda settled in.
Stevens was subsequently loaned out to Swindon and Bradford before joining Barrow on a permanent deal last summer.
Tipped as one to watch for the future after signing from his boyhood club Ruch Chorzow in January 2019, Poland Under-21 international Bogusz immediately caught the eye with some bright performances for the Under-23s.
He featured alongside the first team for a pre-season tour of Australia, scoring the opener with a well-taken effort against Western Sydney Wanderers, but competitive appearances were few and far between from there.
Since then, Bogusz spent the 2020-21 season at Segunda Division side Logrones, managing one assist and one goal in 23 appearances, but he’s been much more productive in his second season in the Spanish second tier.
Playing under attack-minded coach Paco Jemez, the young Pole has four goals and six assists in 19 appearances for UD Ibiza, who have an outside chance of going up this season.
“He’s probably going to be better than me,” according to his compatriot Mateusz Klich.
Let’s not even f*cking go there.
The nippy winger had only made a handful of first-team appearances after joining on a free transfer from Man City during the promotion-winning campaign, but he appeared a lively and well-liked member of the squad.
Poveda went on to feature more prominently in his first full season, making 14 Premier League appearances (all off the bench), before being loaned out to Blackburn Rovers for the 2021-22 campaign – a move that was sadly cut short in November following a nasty broken fibula injury.
Three substitute appearances, 49 minutes played, no goals, no assists. One tribunal, and seemingly three clubs that didn’t really want him.
He ended up joining Nantes in October 2020, but he’s barely played for the French club, mustering just 10 minutes of Ligue 1 football this season.
Yet to make a first-team appearance for Leeds, we severely doubt it’ll ever happen for the 20-year-old Italian goalkeeper.
After spending 18 months developing his skills in the Under-23s, he’s since been loaned out to Serie C club Pro Patria
Mateo Joseph Fernandez
Having not done any January business in January 2021, seemingly having learned their lessons from mistakes in recent years gone past, Leeds brought in Espanyol starlet Mateo Joseph Fernandez midway through the 2021-22 campaign.
He’s yet to make an appearance for the Under-23s, and a first-team debut could well be a long while away yet, but the 18-year-old striker certainly looks like an exciting prospect. Leeds’ first mid-season addition in two years looks like one to keep an eye on.