Leeds United's Joe Gelhardt has no fears about extra weight transfer window has put on his shoulders

Leeds United's failure to sign the senior striker they targeted all summer has put extra weight on Joe Gelhardt's shoulders during the rest of 2022, but the 20-year-old is relishing, not fearing it.

Leeds knew they really needed another centre-forward in the last transfer window after struggling to cope with Patrick Bamford's injury problems last season.

Despite a problematic last few hours of the window they got one, and an Italian international at that, but weeks earlier coach Jesse Marsch had described Willy Gnonto as a development player for the future, rather than one ready to step straight into the Premier League with its notorious physical demands and intense pace.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That Plan A had been to sign him in January shows as much, but the Whites were able to persuade Zurich to bring the deal forward at the 11th hour when they failed to sign Marseille’s Bemba Dieng or PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo on deadline day.

FEARLESS: Leeds United's 20-year-old striker Joe GelhardtFEARLESS: Leeds United's 20-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt
FEARLESS: Leeds United's 20-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt

Before the 2022-23 started, Leeds tried to sign Charles de Ketelaere, only for the highly-rated Belgian to opt instead for AC Milan.

Last season’s slightly reluctant and ill-fitting fall-back of winger Dan James is no longer an option either after joining Fulham on a season-long loan.

So with Rodrigo dislocating his shoulder and Bamford still to reach full fitness, it does put more onus on Gelhardt, who has shown plenty of promise in his early top-flight career but has so far only started six games and scored twice.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I don't see it as a weight, I see it more as an opportunity for myself," argues the Merseysider, who joined from Wigan Athletic two years ago. "I don't really feel pressure, I just try to go onto the pitch and do what's best for the team and play my game.

"I'm grateful for the opportunities I'm getting to play in the Premier League.

"Whenever I step out on the field I don't feel too much pressure – maybe a bit of nerves before the game but as soon as that whistle goes, it's just like any other game for me, really."

A bustling forward, Gelhardt’s fearless style of player backs up his words.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the England youth international is another player still seen as one for the future, which partly explains why Leeds were anxious not to over-burden him.

Marsch also suggested recently Bamford and Gelhardt could start matches together, having played briefly alongside one another at Brentford and at home to Everton. It is something the youngster would like to do more.

"I enjoyed playing with Patrick," says. "He was more of the nine (traditional centre-forward) and I was more of the ten (player in the hole behind) – I was dropping in more and he was stretching it a bit more. I think me and Pat work well together.

"I'm trying to get better and better at each position but I think if you're a No 10 you can do No 9 things.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"With me and Pat, we can change whenever, you don't have to do one role for the whole game as long as you communicate."

Leeds have already suggested they will go back in for Gakpo – more of a winger, but one with a good goalscoring record – in January but they seem certain to face some pretty stiff competition, particularly if the Netherlands international has a good World Cup.

In the meantime, crowd favourite Gelhardt will have an opportunity to prove what many supporters have often said about him since he made his top-flight debut last season – that he is a player Leeds should not be holding back.