Leeds United now unlikely to move for Huddersfield Town midfielder Lewis O'Brien - Phil Hay
By Andrew Maddox
Leeds United are now unlikely to move for Huddersfield Town’s Lewis O’Brien, according to Phil Hay.
O’Brien was a rock in The Terriers’ push for promotion in the 2021/22 season, which ended in play-off final heartbreak against Nottingham Forest at Wembley.
There is understood to be a release clause written into O’Brien’s contract, but Hay has poured cold water on the rumours that he could be heading across Yorkshire to Elland Road.
Hay has reported for The Athletic that Jesse Marsch and the Whites could be looking elsewhere, with Manchester United starlet James Garner still mentioned.
“As for Huddersfield’s O’Brien, the club do want a central midfielder but from what we’re hearing, they’re focusing on other targets,” he wrote.
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“It’s not that they don’t like O’Brien but, when push comes to shove, his window of opportunity for moving to Elland Road was probably last summer.”
Garner vs O’Brien
Leeds have long had a creativity gap in their squad, with their tally of 42 goals last season being the fifth lowest in the Premier League 2021-22 season.
In this respect, Garner would be the better option over O’Brien, assuming he could carry his form into the Premier League.
The midfielder racked up ten goal contributions in the final 17 games of the Championship season, almost double what O’Brien accumulated over the entire season in 500 more minutes of football.
He also offers much more versatility than the Huddersfield stalwart, being able to operate in attacking, central or defensive midfield with ease. Garner can progress the ball much more effectively than O’Brien, attempting six times as many crosses as O’Brien, according to FBRef.
However, Leeds also need defensive stability. Their tally of 79 goals conceded was the second-highest in the Premier League last season, with only Norwich City conceding more.
O’Brien is the more natural defensive player of the two, preferring to sit deeper and offer support to the back line. He is a better tackler than Garner, completing more overall tackles and tackles per 90 minutes than the Forest loanee over the course of the season.
However, Forest conceded fewer goals per 90 minutes with Garner on the pitch compared to Huddersfield with O’Brien.
There is also the obvious financial outlay to consider, with Garner only requiring wages and a possible loan fee. By signing Garner, Leeds could use the £10 million they would spend on O’Brien to patch up other areas of the squad.
In other Leeds United news, the Whites are readying a new bid for a blockbuster striker signing according to Phil Hay after Premier League survival