By Neil Champney

4th Jul, 2020 | 7:00am

Report - Leeds plot raid for 22y/o defender, player could be tempted by English switch

Leeds United are keen on signing Benfica defender Branimir Kalaica this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

The 22-year-old has been a mainstay for the Portuguese club’s reserve side this season, making 16 appearances in the Liga Pro – Portugal’s second tier.

The Croatia youth international joined Benfica from Dinamo Zagreb on a free transfer in 2016.

And it is understood that the Whites have identified him as a potential central defensive target as they look to build a squad capable of competing in the Premier League.

But Marcelo Bielsa’s men could face competition for the player, with both Watford and Celtic also said to be monitoring him.

The Mail claim that Benfica have “high hopes” for the defender, but are well-stocked at the heart of defence, with the player tempted by the prospect of a move to England.

Kalaica may not be the most high profile of targets, but there’s a lot to be excited about here.

Aside from his pedigree as a youth international and the fact that Benfica rate him highly, his stats are impressive too.

Compared to Ben White this season, the defender has a higher total action success rate, a higher dribble success rate, made more interceptions, and completed nearly 10 passes more per game, as per Wyscout.

Comfortable on the ball and capable of anticipating danger early, you can understand why he would be the kind of player that Bielsa might take an interest in.

Interest from Watford and Celtic could complicate things, but if we go up this summer – and if the Hornets go down – you would assume that it would put us in a vastly strengthened position to get this one over the line.

In other Leeds United news, Bradley Johnson has made a PL prediction for Leeds while previewing Saturday clash.