Even though he will not feature tonight, the signing of Jean-Kevin Augustin has given Leeds United a “massive boost” ahead of tonight’s Championship game at home to Millwall, according to Stuart Dallas.
The arrival of the 22-year-old forward, on loan from Red Bull Leipzig with the option of a permanent deal, completes the Whites’ January transfer business. They had already signed winger Ian Poveda and goalkeeper Elia Caprile.
That Monaco were willing to cancel Augustin’s season-long loan to facilitate the deal tells of Augustin’s difficult campaign, but he won the European Under-19 Championships, golden boot and player of the tournament award with France in 2016.
“It’s a big boost,” said Dallas. “It gives us more strength in depth.
“The manager has brought him in, which speaks volumes to how important he is. I’ve decided to call him ‘Big Kev’. We need to make him feel at home.”
Augustin, who represented France in every age group from under-16 to under-21, began his club career with Paris Saint Germain, moving to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Leipzig for £11m in 2017.
He played Champions League football for Leipzig, third in last term’s Bundesliga, but last summer was loaned to Monaco. He has been limited to 439 minutes in all competitions, scoring his only goal against Marseille in October and not making any assists.
Augustin can also play wide, and is known for pace and power.
“He has a good history,” said Leeds coach Macelo Bielsa. “Even in the academy, he was one of the more well-known players in the world.”
Bielsa does not speak to transfer targets, but his presence was a big attraction for Augustin.
“The player has to want to be part of Leeds and if the club want him there is nothing more to add,” explained Bielsa.
“The sporting director (Victor Orta) provides all the information.
“It’s not necessary for me to communicate with the player because all the information a player needs to come, he can get it without speaking to me.”
But Augustin was quick to namecheck his new boss.
“Everyone knows him in the football world,” he said. “I didn’t have to think long when Leeds wanted me and he wanted me.”
Leeds set out to sign a winger and a centre-forward to replace Jack Clarke and Eddie Nketiah, recalled from season-long loans at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal respectively because of a lack of game-time.
They had been looking to sign a striker with experience of English football, but were priced out. Bielsa, though, refused to entertain talk Augustin was not top of his shopping list.
“We didn’t have an order of priorities,” he insisted. “We verified all the options Victor gave us. All of them were good. Augustin was the option we could do.
“He’s a centre-forward with movement and mobility. He’s involved in the build-up play. He has a lot of presence in the box and he’s going to be useful.
“We are not going to add (another) new player. We had to replace Clarke and Nketiah, Poveda and Augustin resolve this.
“The club’s support is very important.”
Completing their business early should raise spirits at Elland Road tonight, where the Whites will be looking for only their second win in nine matches, against a Millwall side whose six-match unbeaten run was ended by Sheffield United on Saturday. The Lions beat Leeds 2-1 in October.
Ben White will deputise for the suspended Kalvin Phillips in midfield.
“We’ve been able to work on Ben in that position, and he’s fitted in really well,” said Dallas. “He’s very comfortable on the ball.
“It’ll be tough (against Millwall), we know their threat, but we will focus on ourselves.”
Last six games: Leeds United DWDLLL; Millwall WWWDWL.
Referee: D England (South Yorkshire).
Last time: Leeds United 3 Millwall 2, March 30, 2019, Championship.