Very saucy news coming from Leeds by the way of Matt Hughes from the Daily Mail. The outlet is reporting that Leeds are about to undergo heavy changes if the Peacocks end up getting relegated, and not precisely because they’d want to, but rather because of already-agreed terms in deals signed by their current players.
As the Daily Mail discloses, Leeds would have signed pretty much all of their current stars to deals including release clauses linked to the club’s potential relegation down the road—which, judging by the looks of the Premier League table could be about to happen in less than a month.
The strategy was sound back in the day in order to secure some of those players to stay on the team at least for the first season in the English top division. That, though, could turn out to not be so incredibly clever in the long run with Leeds facing relegation this year.
Andrea Radrizzani, Leeds’ owner, included release clauses no higher than—as the DM reports—£30M. Those clauses are part of the contracts of team leaders such as Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, and Patrick Bamford, all of which will command massive interest in the next transfer market whether those numbers are right or not. Of course, that sort of “cheap” availability would make the interest skyrocket.
Any team dropping to the Championship faces the reality of having to deal with the tough reality of losing some of its most valuable assets. Salary cuts and just the mere fact of leaving the top-flight division is a deal-breaker for some of those men, so it all makes sense.
With the Financial Fair Play rules in place and making it tougher for rich clubs to beat the field on pure economic muscle, this could be an unexpected and extraordinary chance to legally circumvent the FFP while landing top-notch players at a very affordable cost.
Let’s take a look at the three aforementioned players—seemingly confirmed to have those release clauses in place—as potential options worth targeting by Newcastle United this summer.
The Brazilian can play all around the pitch, and that’s what he’s done this season. Raphina clocks in third among Leeds players in minutes, he has the most goals with 10, and he has also been good to assist three more to his teammates over his 31 games played. Raphinha arrived in Leeds from French club Rennes two years ago after having played for Portugal's star-laden side Sporting prior to that.
Raphinha is only 24 years old and is putting together his best season in a top league since he debuted in the Primeira Liga with Sporting back in the 2018-19 season. He scored six and assisted nine goals in Leeds’ 2021 season, but he’s getting the same 0.54 xG+xA this season while being deadly around the area. With the likes of Miguel Almirón and Allan Saint-Maximin playing good-not-great football and not truly seen as bonafide long-term solutions, there is a very serious chance Newcastle look hard into adding Raphinha on a discount. Barcelona has been mentioned in the rumor trail as a potential bidder.
Kalvin Phillips (DM/MC/AM)
A true Leeds-born-and-raised lad, Phillips is surely the no. 1 player every single team around Europe will put on their list of targets for the next summer. There is just not a single doubt about that being the case in the event of a Leeds’ relegation in when the season is over. Phillips is still as young as they come (26) though he has racked up 19 international caps already and was part of the Three Lions squad to perform in Euro 2022 last summer, playing all but 25 minutes in England’s run toward a 4-3 penalty-defeat against Italy in the final.
Signing Phillips for £30M would be an absolute steal no matter how you look at it. Oft-referenced football site Transfermarkt.com has KP valued at around £43M and rising, so you get an idea. Phillips might be a little weirder fit in Newcastle’s lineup as currently constructed (with Bruno and Joelinton fixed starters and Jonjo/Willock already fighting for the other MF position), though that should not put any impediment on the board’s efforts to land him if available at the reported price. Manchester United has generated the loudest rumors when it comes to a potential acquisition of the Leeds academy graduate come July.
Patrick Bamford (CF)
Although not the youngest (29 by the start of next season) of the Leeds players available on bargain deals, Bamford surely is one to fit Newcastle’s type of target under Eddie Howe and would help the club in building the culture it wants to establish going forward. After fighting his way through all sorts of scenarios—from MK Dons in League One to Norwich, Cyrstal Palace, Burnley, Middlesbrough, and ultimately Leeds in the Premier League—Bamford has surely seen it all. And he’s never lost his sublime touch.
Bamford has not had the best of years as he’s been out injured more often than not this season. That said, he’s been good to score 11, 9, 16, and 17 goals in the prior four years to go with the additional bonus of getting two, two, and seven assists on top of that goalscoring prowess. Not the flashiest of targets, of course, but surely one that would at least bolster the forward rotation for a team that has massively lacked talent at it with Callum Wilson out for four-plus months.