Leeds United must be on red alert to beat Liverpool and Manchester City to Noah Okafor
Leeds United could face an uphill struggle to sign Noah Okafor in January now that Manchester City and Liverpool have expressed their interests, but The Whites must go all out to gain the services of the highly touted 22-year-old.
The RB Salzburg No.77 has already scored ten goals in just 22 appearances this season, including strikes against Chelsea and AC Milan in the Champions League, and could prove a quality signing for a Leeds side actively looking for new signings in January.
According to Florian Plettenberg of Sky Germany, no formal offer has been submitted by Marsch’s side, but AC Milan, Liverpool and Manchester City are now also monitoring the Swiss international who has a price tag in the region of €35-€40m [£35m].
With Okafor likely to line up for the Swiss national side at the Qatar World Cup, Leeds will keep a close eye on the forward in a hope that he delivers on the global stage.
The forward’s performances at the World Cup will be “very important” in deciding his fate according to Plettenburg, and if so Leeds must be on red alert to other Premier League clubs swooping in on their desired target.
The 22-year-old’s contract expires in the summer of 2024, so a transfer in January or next summer is extremely likely, with the Austrian champions likely to look towards the Premier League in their search for a hefty price tag.
Salzburg’s sporting director confirmed such news, saying: “Okafor really took off last year. I hope he plays a good World Cup, then the stock Noah Okafor can become very interesting. I don’t rule it out.”
With Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp struggling with injuries to attacking players such as Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, Okafor is now one of the German’s desired transfer targets, while Pep Guardiola has severe pulling power if Manchester City were to join the race.
What Marsch can offer Okafor is guaranteed game time in a Leeds side which would suit his style of play perfectly. When playing alongside ex-teammate Brendan Aaronson last season at Salzburg, Okafor was manager Mattias Jaissle’s preferred option to play in a front two, allowing the forward to drift to wide posititons and leave space in the middle for the likes of Aaronson.
His ability in 1v1 situations is one of his greatest assets, with Okafor attempting 6.6 dribbles per 90 minutes last season, with a 52% success rate. He is happy to take on opposition full-backs at will and would also suit Leeds’ high relentless press.
If Marsch can ward off Liverpool and City with an offer of around £35m, Leeds could be acquiring another gem of a player who could help propel Leeds back into the top-half of the Premier League table.