Leeds United are one of the many Premier League outfits currently embroiled in a thronged relegation battle, and every match must be considered a must-win if the drop zone remains firmly below the feet of Javi Gracia’s men.
A recent purple patch has propelled the Whites into 14th place, though after 27 matches, the congested table allows the outfit just two points of safety, with endangered duo West Ham United and Bournemouth both going above United with just one win.
When Jesse Marsch was sacked two months ago, brooding clouds lurked over Elland Road. Leeds were unruly and seeped in pessimism, and while the danger remains, a more cohesive and disciplined approach has started to earn invaluable points to forge a climb up the table.
Collectively, the squad has been far more promising, but there are several members still struggling to find their feet under new management, and none floundering more so than Brenden Aaronson, who has endured a tumultuous ride over the past few weeks.
Having signed for the Whites last summer for roughly £25m, the forward-thinking midfielder has managed just one goal and two assists from his 26 Premier League appearances, struggling for form and fluidity.
Who should replace Brenden Aaronson?
As per Sofascore, the 22-year-old Aaronson has recorded a lowly average league rating of 6.51 this term, with his “poor” – as branded by one source – form since the turn of the year particularly lacklustre.
Reporter Joe Donnohue was particularly scathing in his recent comments, stating that the £45k-per-week ace left his teammates “raging” after one recent subpar showing.
Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, former Leeds defender Jon twiiNewsome also recently said: “Over the past couple of months, since the World Cup, he’s not really produced anything, has he? It’s stats, it’s assists, goals, they’re the departments that we’re lacking in.”
With Tyler Adams currently out injured, Gracia confirmed that there are two starlets “he’ll think about using while Adams is out“, with Darko Gyabi pushing for a start.
Gyabi, 19-years-old, left Donnohue waxing lyrical earlier this month, with the journalist saying: “Darko Gyabi’s performance tonight is the most complete midfield display by any #LUFC player, at any level, (I’ve seen) this season. Passing, strength, presence, awareness, use of his body – class.”
That praise came following Leeds’ recent 3-0 victory over Derby County in the Premier League 2, but his cameo against Manchester City is greater evidence of his calibre.
Having made a 13-minute display at the end of December, Gyabi recorded an impressive 7.0 match rating against the divisional champions, completing 100% of his passes and winning 100% of his dribbles, also making two tackles and having a shot blocked.
He is a robust and unwavering central force, and despite his inexperience, the 19-year-old would be the perfect phenom to inject into the fold as the season approaches the business end, and Gracia must act with swift conviction.
There were high hopes for Aaronson when he penned his deal with Leeds, and while the talent remains on display, he will need to improve many facets of his toolkit before unleashing his full might on the Premier League.
Gyabi, in retrospect, will be vying for an opportunity to prove that he deserves a place in Gracia’s plans, and as such, the Spaniard must tinker with his squad and craft a new dimension in the fight to preserve top-flight status.