Leeds United could be “in the equation” to make a run at signing record-breaking Nigerian sensation Gift Orban this summer, according to Ben Jacobs.
The CBS journalist believes the 20-year-old forward is a long-shot to move at the end of the season, but after scoring 12 goals in just nine appearances for Gent since a January move he has generated enough attention that Premier League money could talk with the Whites expected to be looking for an alternative to Patrick Bamford.
Orban broke the record for the fastest-ever hat-trick in UEFA competition on Wednesday (15 March), completing the feat in three minutes and 25 seconds in a 4-1 win over Basaksehir, just three days after scoring four in a 6-2 Jupiler Pro League win at Zulte Waragem and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Jacobs told TEAMtalk: “He only joined Gent in January, which makes a summer move relatively unlikely, although because of Gent playing in Belgium, there is a realistic chance that a top European club might just be able to put in an offer that’s too good to turn down.”
Summing up the youngster’s recent exploits he went on: “What Orban is doing is putting himself in the shop window. This week alone, he’s scored seven goals including a four-minute hat-trick in the Europa Conference League. And then on top of that, four goals in the Belgian Pro League.
“So between Sunday and Wednesday, the young Nigerian scored seven goals, which is absolutely incredible. And when you have that type of scoring form, you’re bound to pique the interest of suitors.”
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While cautioning that 2024 may be more of a feasible expectation for a move, Jacobs left the door open for the Premier League pair to make a play sooner than that, saying: “Now in terms of clubs that have him on the radar, and have at least scouted him, but it’s nothing more than that, at this point, Leicester City are one to watch…
“I think that Leeds United could be in the equation as well, because they’re on the lookout come summer for a young striker and somebody to alleviate the burden on Patrick Bamford.”
The sort of goalscoring form that Orban is producing can’t help but intrigue clubs looking for help in that department.
Leeds United’s breakout star this season is a youngster who was plucked from outside of the big five European leagues in Willy Gnonto, and their prolonged pursuit of Charles De Ketelaere in the summer shows the club have an eye on the Belgian league.
The Whites particularly like exciting young attacking talents, and with Barcelona teenager Ilias Akhomach now on the brink of signing a four-year deal it is not a huge stretch to imagine Victor Orta turning his attentions to the Nigerian next.
Big money was spent on Georginio Rutter in the January transfer window, but he is not seen as an out-an-out striker, so if Orban was considered the man to finally tick that box he has certainly put together a strong CV in a short space of time.
Chelsea’s British-record £106.8million purchase of Enzo Fernandez just six months after he had signed for Benfica shows that the power of Premier League money can speed a player over the stepping stones towards England.
And while anything this summer is clearly not going to be on the same scale as that deal, and will necessarily require top flight survival to be secured in any case, there are certainly a few factors that makes this a move which could happen.
In other Leeds United news, chaos behind the scenes at Elland Road with Andrea Radrizzani set for exit.
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