Leeds United chief explains why Che Adams move to Elland Road collapsed

One assist was all it took to stop Leeds United signing Southampton’s Che Adams in January, but sporting director Victor Orta says he is proud he was able to loan Jean-Kevin Augustin instead.

Che Adams of Southampton. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The Whites’ mid-season transfer priority was a centre-forward with a proven Championship track record, but they were frustrated at how difficult it was to obtain one. In the end, they moved instead for Frenchman Augustin.

Sheffield United product Adams scored 34 league goals in three seasons with Birmingham City, but only managed his first for Southampton in March.

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Orta claims the Saints were open to a deal in December, only to change their mind when Adams set up a Danny Ings goal against Leicester City.

“When you are in a summer market the priority is quality or quantity,” explained Orta. “In January, the priority is availability. And then you need to detect the availability, that is not easy.

“I had a player that (in) the second week of December is really available for us, near to closing (the deal), and the second week of January he’s not available because he gave a nice assist against Leicester.”

Eventually Orta and Leeds had to accept targets such as Adams, Dwight Gayle and Andre Gray could not be bought without breaking financial fair play rules, and loaning them with a view to buy made the cost even higher.

Instead they turned to Augustin, who was having a difficult season-long loan at Monaco from RB Leipzig. Despite that, and not making his Leeds debut before the coronavirus pandemic as he struggled to meet Marcelo Bielsa’s exacting fitness requirements, the 22-year-old is rated highly.

“When I (was given) the minimal hope about Augustin in terms of availability, I say wow, if there is a minimum chance, I want to explore (it),” said Orta. “And to be honest, I feel proud this happened.”

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