Leeds United have ended their search for a striker, and the signing of Jean-Kevin Augustin should give them a different dimension up front.
The Whites' inability to sign a player with experience of English football has forced them to gamble on a 22-year-old Frenchman whose career is yet to really take off, but who has huge potential if Marcelo Bielsa can extract it.
That Monaco have agreed to cut short the loan of a forward they had the option to buy in the summer is an indication that Augustin's time in the Principality has not gone as planned, but if Bielsa can get the best out of him, he will have a different type of player to Patrick Bamford, who was left as the only senior specialist centre-forward by the departure of Eddie Nketiah.
Augustin initially join on loan, with the option of a permanent deal – thought to be valued at around £15m – if Leeds win promotion.
Augustin won the golden boot at the 2016 European Under-19 Championships, his opening goal in the final nudging him ahead of team-mate Kylian Mbappe. Ralf Hasnehuttl, the manager who brought him to the Bundesliga, described him as “the full package”. He also has five goals in nine under-21 appearances.
Bamford is an out-and-out centre-forward whose hold-up play and physicality has been important to the way Leeds play. Bielsa had reservations about Nketiah's ability to replicate that, and this month Arsenal recalled him halfway through a season-long loan, unhappy about the amount of football he played. The England Under-21 international will be part of Mikel Arteta's first-team squad for the rest of the season, and came off the bench at home to Sheffield United.
Augustin was mainly used as centre-forward in France's European Championship-winning campaign, with Mbappe on the wing, but he started the tournament as a left-winger, scoring the first of his six goals in a 2-1 opening-game defeat to England. The right-footer can play on either flank.
Pace and strength are seen as his two best characteristics, giving Leeds an option in behind the defence Bamford does not really offer.
Augustin started his career at Paris Saint-Germain, but having impressed with the B team, he only scored two goals in 23 Ligue 1 appearances for the seniors, who also had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Lucas Moure as attacking options.
Nevertheless, Bundesliga club Red Bull Leipzig, bought him for £11m in 2017. “He's going to be a really important player,” said their coach, the now-Southampton manager Hasnehuttl.
Augustin scored a respectable 20 goals in 67 games for Leipzig, including eight in last season's third-place finish, but was unable to dislodge Timo Werner as the first-choice centre-forward.
He went on loan to Monaco, but has only played 439 minutes in all competitions, scoring his only goal against Marseille in October and not making any assists. Last week they agreed to cancel his loan, allowing Augustin to move to West Yorkshire.
In Bielsa, Pep Guardiola says Augustin will be working with “the best manager in the world” at developing young players.
“Leeds United is an incredible challenge to be training for one of the best or maybe the best manager in the world in terms of how he helps the players to be better players,” he said.
Leeds had been priced out of their attempts to sign a number of English-based players, and are restricted in what they can spend by the Championship's profit and sustainability rules.