Leeds Utd accelerate plans to sign striker in club-record deal as Man Utd delay opens door for Victor Orta

Matheus Cunha of Atletico Madrid during the Group B - UEFA Champions League match between Club Brugge KV and Atletico Madrid at the Jan Breydelstadion on October 4, 2022 in Brugges, Belgium Credit: Alamy
Matheus Cunha of Atletico Madrid during the Group B - UEFA Champions League match between Club Brugge KV and Atletico Madrid at the Jan Breydelstadion on October 4, 2022 in Brugges, Belgium Credit: Alamy

Leeds United director of football Victor Orta is reportedly spying the chance to bring a long-term attacking target to Elland Road in January with Manchester United likely to turn their attention elsewhere.

The Whites have enjoyed a topsy-turvy season so far, beating the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, but failing to find any consistency. As it stands, a 4-3 defeat at Tottenham on Saturday  – a game in which Leeds had led three times in – leaves the Whites 15th in the Premier League table.

There is certainly much to be admired about Leeds’ play. Scoring three times away from home at Tottenham, but conceding four times suggests they are too wide open at the back.

As such, the Whites are keen to strengthen their defence – particularly at left-back. Here we look at five possible options open to Marsch and Co as they look to fill their problem position.

Leeds, though, are also keen to add to their attacking options. Leading scorer Rodrigo Moreno has nine goals to his name this season – already his best goalscoring season for the Whites.

However, his deal expires in summer 2024 and there is talk he could be allowed to leave this summer.

Perhaps more pressing, though, are the struggles in the side of Patrick Bamford. The one-time England striker has failed to score this calendar year with his last Leeds goal coming in a 2-2 draw against Brentford last December.

And while his year has been riddled by a string of injuries, he has passed up plenty of chances to open his account this season. Indeed, his penalty miss at home to Arsenal saw the Whites slip to a 1-0 defeat.

Leeds look towards Matheus Cunha

With the January window opening in just 47 days, Leeds are turning their focus towards possible new arrivals. And one player who has been seemingly made available is Atletico Madrid striker Matheus Cunha.

The Brazilian – linked with Leeds from his days at Hertha Berlin – has found the going tough since a £22.6m move there in summer 2021. He scored seven times in 37 appearances in his debut season. However, Cunha has drawn a blank in each of his 17 appearances so far this term.

And with Atleti dropping out of Europe after a miserable Champions League campaign, Cunha is one of several stars the club has put up for sale.

Per Marca, they are reportedly willing to let him move on. Furthermore, the eight-times capped Brazil attacker is targeting a move to the Premier League as his next destination.

Manchester United were among those reportedly weighing up a move as they ponder life after Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, the Red Devils seemingly have more ambitious targets in mind. To that end, Kylian Mbappe and Victor Osimhen are also reportedly on their radar.

Now, according to Mundo Deportivo, Manchester United’s hesitancy will open the door for a move to Leeds.

Price tag revealed to take Cunha to Leeds

And having slipped down their pecking order, Atletico are reportedly willing to let Cunha leave for a fee of around £30.7m (€35m).

That would represent a club-record deal for Leeds, beating the £26.9m paid for Rodrigo in summer 2020.

While not an out-and-out cental striker, Cunha’s ability to play across the frontline would appeal to Leeds. They have a flexible and versatile forward line under Marsch. Currently, Rodrigo, Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto are their preferred options. Luis Sinisterra, who has missed the last three games, and Jack Harrison remain other options.

Cunha would certainly represent another quality addition to add to their pool. Indeed, he would prove a useful signing if Orta can get a deal done.

READ MORE: Leeds braced for abundance of January bids as three European sides join Newcastle in pursuit of sparsely-used star

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