By Jonty Banks

9th Jan, 2023 | 10:10pm

Joe Gelhardt exit for Georginio Rutter is an expensive risk for Leeds United

The potential release of Leeds United youngster Joe Gelhardt on loan could prove a risky move as the club draw ever closer to completing the marquee signing of striker Georginio Rutter.

According to Football Insider on Monday (9 January), the Whites have “given the green light” to allow the 20-year-old to move away from Elland Road on loan in the January transfer window.

In turn, Victor Orta looks primed to bring a replacement in attack, with the club reportedly closing in on the acquisition of French forward Rutter for a total package of around £26-35 million [Florian Plettenberg, 8 January].

Gelhardt was recalled to the Leeds starting XI for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round encounter against Cardiff City (8 January) but failed to register any telling impact on proceedings. The former Wigan youngster was subbed for Sonny Perkins after 73 minutes, who would eventually equalise for the visitors in the dying moments of the match.

This disappointing outing continued his frustrating season to date, which has seen the forward make 17 appearances totalling just 390 minutes.

Despite his shortcomings this season, the academy graduate proved himself a key cog in Jesse Marsch’s relegation battle last season, scoring a memorable injury-time goal against Norwich City along the way.

He clearly has an abundance of talent but hasn’t been managed well by Marsch this season, especially considering the injuries to regular number-nine Patrick Bamford.

Chewing the fat live on Sky Sports’ Good Morning Transfers on Monday morning (9 January), Sky Sports broadcaster Nubaid Haroon questioned whether letting Gelhardt go in place of the equally unexposed Rutter was a wise move.

He said: “I do wonder, because they are potentially letting Joe Gelhardt go off on loan. A player who is young, full of promise and is one of your own and pay for a player who is still extremely raw.

“I’m not too convinced by the trade off.”

Even if Leeds do sign Rutter, they will still be rather short-staffed in attack, especially considering Bamford’s rotten luck with injuries. The Hoffenheim forward may well be a brilliant prospect, but is he really ready for the trials and tribulations of a relegation dogfight?

Gelhardt already has that ticked off on his CV, and you can’t help but feel Leeds are making a mistake if they let him move away on a loan this month.

In other Leeds Untied news, goalkeeper Illan Meslier likes tweet of a potential new signing at Elland Road.