By George Overhill

4th Nov, 2022 | 8:45pm

The Jean-Kevin Augustin has handed the Leeds United board a gift-wrapped excuse to scrimp on the squad in January after leaving it short in the summer.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favour of RB Leipzig on Friday (4 November) and the Whites are now on the hook for the €21million fee they had agreed for the French forward near three years ago at the start of his ill-fated loan, which threatens the clear needs of the winter transfer window.

The arrivals in the offseason were a decent haul, with four near-certain starters brought in, and a fifth arguably a stronger acquisition than them all.

But the signings of Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Luis Sinisterra were near enough entirely paid for by the sales of star men Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.

That isn’t a problem in itself, since being sensible with the money is important, as Whites supporters know more than many.

But the fanbase was crying out for help at left-back and another senior option up front, and while the hierarchy made a lot of noise towards the latter they comparatively did nothing about the full-back spot, and neither arrived.

Andrea Radrizzani spoke openly about the pursuit of Charles De Ketelaere for big money, although it apparently never had a chance of success, and welcomed Bamba Dieng to the club before his move fell through in ridiculous circumstances.

Low and behold Leeds United have been struggling to convert chances this season, and the plan to let Junior Firpo man the left of the back four has been an abject failure so far, with Pascal Struijk playing out of position yet now essentially is the undisputed starter.

The confusing mixed messages late in the window regarding the departure of Dan James also suggested that Jesse Marsch was being left to face the music on behalf of a board who had bungled deadline day.

None of that leaves Radrizzani, Victor Orta, or Angus Kinnear looking great in itself, especially when before the dramatic win at Anfield (29 October) the manager’s job was on the brink and another relegation battle looked on the cards.

But with the club announcing they plan to appeal yet again to avoid paying the Augustin money, despite having lost the legal fight in the eyes of FIFA and CAS, it suggests an outlook that might positively be framed as chaotically misguided, but could more negatively be seen as a bit sly when it comes to paying up.

It is difficult to see what new information could come to light at this point that would reverse the previous rulings, meaning it looks likely that they will be forced to pay for a player they don’t even have rights to, with both sides having refused to claim him in 2020 before he became a free agent [Phil Hay].

So, if those in charge at the club were hoping to muddle through to the summer, and even perhaps to the eventual takeover from the 49ers, without investing in a forward or a left-back, they have now got an excuse to use.

Fans will understandably be unhappy with the ruling, but it is the Leeds United hierarchy that have created this situation, and there is surely no chance they would have happily sat back and said ‘fair enough’ had the roles been reversed in the first instance.

The fact that the obligation to buy was triggered by promotion after the date stated in the contract due to the unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic is very sneaky loophole.

Having returned to the Premier League the club tried to have their cake and eat it by slipping out of the Augustin deal because he had been injured and ineffective.

Unfortunately for the supporters it looks suspiciously like the board didn’t want to pay then for the now-25-year-old, and they managed not to pay much at all in the summer for the squad [Yorkshire Evening Post].

They are still trying not to pay for Augustin now, and yet if they are forced to they could use that to not have to pay for a pair of much-needed additions in January.

Perhaps they will prove all that wrong, but it looked like they had done so with Cody Gakpo, and then Dieng, late in August, and here we still are, with the fans looking at two glaring holes in an otherwise solid squad.

In other Leeds United news, Chris Sutton had his tail between his legs when he predicted the Whites vs Bournemouth result.