By George Overhill

28th Sep, 2022 | 9:40pm

Sonny Perkins form boosts Leeds United director Victor Orta, pours salt on West Ham wound

Sonny Perkins’ incredible scoring form since his arrival at Leeds United is helping shield Victor Orta from criticism after the sales of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha, says Beren Cross.

The two biggest stars at Elland Road exited the club in the summer, while the proceeds were used to buy seven players, in addition to making some free agent acquisitions, and it is the huge upside to one of those in the former West Ham teenager that is boosting the sporting director’s position.

Perkins was called up to the England under-19s squad for the first time over the international break after scoring in every game for the Whites under-21s so far this season, and then duly netted in all three of the Three Lions fixtures, to provide a major bonus that Cross believes is part of a considerable “honeymoon period”, while making the Hammers feel all the sicker for having lost him.

Writing in his Tuesday night column (27 September) for Leeds Live Cross said: “With Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha sold, the last thing Orta needed was their replacements flopping.

“Sonny Perkins and Wilfried Gnonto’s international feats are just the latest pages in a book of exploits from the new boys which keeps the shine glowing on their honeymoon periods.

“The former has 11 goals in eight matches for club and country since arriving this summer.

“West Ham United, who memorably made a disgruntled statement in the summer about this teenager’s exit, have only seen more and more salt poured into their wound by Perkins.

“The 18-year-old looks like an outstanding piece of business on a free transfer pending any compensation.”

Cost effective

A lack of senior attacking help in a central area, most notably after a calamitous final 48-hours in the transfer window, drew a fair amount of justified criticism from fans.

Wilfried Gnonto’s January move was brought forward as an emergency measure when multiple other deals broke down, and the Italian international looks to be a shrewd buy for a low fee.

But the signing of Perkins earlier in the summer went under the radar to some extent on the Leeds end, attracting far more attention in east London were West Ham were extremely unhappy with what they felt were unreasonable wage demands from his agent having been induced to seek a move.

Whatever demands were made to Leeds are starting to look worth every penny, with October approaching and the 18-year-old yet to finish a match not on the scoresheet for club and country in the new campaign.

If he continues in this vein it would not be a shock to see him brought into the first-team set-up by Jesse Marsch before long, and if the teenager is able to replicate even a fraction of his current output in Premier League 2 it will prove a major feather in Orta’s cap.

Surely, even the Spaniard could not have expected the young striker to take to life in West Yorkshire as well as he has, and if he ends up being part of the answer in the senior side’s attack it will be partly accident as well as design.

The likes of Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra and Tyler Adams have been strong signings so far, but Perkins is increasingly demanding attention with his scoring run, and Orta can be proud of that even if the pursuits of Cody Gakpo and Bamba Dieng ended in farce.

West Ham fans will be far less forgiving of the whole situation, and will be understandably upset if they soon see their former prospect being successful at Elland Road as well as Thorp Arch.

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