Leeds produced transfer deadline masterstroke despite Zaniolo blank

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Leeds may have failed to land Roma attacker Nicolo Zaniolo on transfer deadline day but the Whites oversaw their best piece of business of the entire window by managing to keep Jack Harrison amid firm interest from Leicester. The Foxes were desperate to land the former New York City and Manchester City attacker but Elland Road chiefs refused to crack under pressure despite the player entering the final 18 months of his current deal at the start of 2023.

Harrison’s future remains an issue to be resolved further down the line with Jesse Marsch understandably keen to tie him down to fresh terms to fend off additional interest.

But keeping an integral player of Harrison’s pedigree is such an undeniable boost ahead of the second half of the season as Leeds hope to avoid another frantic relegation dogfight with fellow bottom-half rivals.

You only have to look at the part Harrison played last season in keeping the Whites afloat on the final day when he netted a 94th-minute winner at Brentford on a famous day for the club.

He has been a huge contributor in each of their past two Premier League campaigns, chipping in with eight top-flight goals in both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 season.

Harrison, who struck a left-footed stunner in the FA Cup win at Accrington Stanley, also recorded eight assists in his debut Premier League campaign, while he already has four to his name this term at the halfway mark.

After losing both Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips in the summer transfer window, the 26-year-old was among those deemed capable of stepping up into a more senior role within the dressing room and he remains an indispensable talent moving forward.

For that reason, Leeds have to anticipate that more transfer approaches will arrive but they will be in a position to plan and reassess his situation at the end of the season.

Losing a player like Harrison mid-season would have been a catastrophic blow for the club – even if Victor Orta was able to replace him with a player of Zaniolo’s quality.

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The Italian playmaker was of interest to Leeds but a deal proved too difficult so late in the window as Roma demanded in excess of £25m.

Bournemouth were prepared to pay that figure before initially being snubbed by Zaniolo, who later tried to push through a move to the Vitality Stadium.

Tottenham also failed with a loan-to-buy offer while AC Milan struggled to finance the cash to sign Zaniolo as he desperately seemed a way out of Roma.

Leeds have also done some impressive business themselves in terms of bringing new faces through the door after landing Wax Wober, Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie on loan from Juventus.

Young Portuguese defender Diogo Monteiro will also be joining from Servette after a deal was struck with the Swiss outfit for his services.

McKennie in particular looks a fantastic addition given his pedigree having previously played in the Champions League with Juventus and at the Qatar World Cup with the United States.

Arsenal, Aston Villa and Bournemouth were also linked with the box-to-box midfielder while Tottenham chief Fabio Paratici has previously enquired about bringing him to Spurs.

But again, all things considered, keeping Harrison is by far and away Leeds’ standout piece of business this month. His influence on Marsch’s team cannot be underestimated – despite his patchy form this season.

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