Brace yourself for a dozen Jermaine Beckford saga's TSS November 3, 2010 Leeds United 31 Comments Kisnorbo's contract nearing it's end The list of players whose contracts run out at the end of the summer is a growing concern amongst Leeds United fans following news that Bradley Johnson has rejected a three year extension to his current deal. Fans have a right to be concerned with The Yorkshire Evening post listing Neil Kilkenny, Davide Somma, Luciano Becchio, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes and Patrick Kisnorbo amongst the other players yet to sign a new deal. After Sky Sports broke the news of Johnson’s rejected contract offer yesterday, Leeds United released a statement admitting that all the out-of-contract players were still in negotiations and that the club were committed to continuing negotiations within a ‘manageable wage structure’. But the sheer quantity of players nearing the end of their contract begs the question – did we learn nothing from the Jermaine Beckford saga? Of course, some of the players nearing the end of their contract wouldn’t be a huge loss. Andrew Hughes for example rarely gets a start in the first team, Richard Naylor is getting on in years and Bradley Johnson is definitely replaceable. The two names that do stand out from the above list however, are key players Patrick Kisnorbo and Davide Somma. Despite his continual injury problems, Patrick Kisnorbo proved himself to be a real warrior at the heart of Leeds United’s defence last season, and his absence from the first team has been a huge blow to the club. Davide Somma meanwhile is starting to attract a lot of attention after scoring 9 goals in his 14 appearances for Leeds United to date. South Aftica’s national team coach is already toying with the idea of a call-up and in current form, there’s bound to be other Championship clubs – if not Premier League clubs – sniffing around Thorp Arch ready to pounce. So where do we point the finger when January comes around and we have another Jermaine Beckford saga on our hands? Well, it has to be Ken Bates but I’m not sure I’d have handled the situation any differently. As we approached the end of the 2009-10 campaign it was impossible to determine where Leeds United would be playing their football this season so contract negotiations at that point would have been extremely difficult. The players would have expected Championship salaries, but the chairman would have to proceed with some caution in case promotion wasn’t achieved. The inevitable difficulties are probably why the club decided to wait until the summer. But the summer passed without resolution and it now seems Ken Bates’ financial caution may have backfired dramatically as Leeds United face the possibility of several players – with a combined price-tag of several million – leaving for absolutely nothing. With this in mind, maybe we’ve been a little over-cautious? Maybe it was better to take the risk and sign them up early? At least that way we’d have a saleable asset that could inject some funds back into the club? Or maybe it’s a case of ‘once bitten, twice shy?’ With expensive players like Andy Robinson bringing a carbon footprint to the reserve team parking lot, I can understand why Leeds United are reluctant to dish out too many long-term contracts! LSD&2Es Surely renegotiations this summer could have been completed for most with a renegotiation clause built in for promotion or relegation on top of middling Championship wages?? Sounds so easy eh?! TSS @LSD&2Es I considered that too, but would players have been willing to sign under those conditions? You have to remember, that a lot of these players signed on the basis that Leeds would be restored to the Championship quickly and if we’d failed again, I suspect there would have been a mass exodus over the summer. Dje The club is right not to offer Kisnorbo a new contract until he can prove that he is fully fit – and hopefully the same calibre of layer who was so vital to us at the back. Of the others, Somma and Becchio seem a wise punt for a new deal as they each have their admirers so are ‘cashable’ in future transfer markets. I’d pass on the rest and throw the gauntlet down to Kilkenny and Johnson to prove in the next two moths that they are of good Championship calibre and perhaps even offer a squad position if we were to get promoted within the next three years to the Premiership. I think that is asking a lot, but we have to show ambition now and ask it of our playing squad too. Mark R If we are in a decent League position come January we’ll be an attractive club to join for better players in the transfer window, and make a push for a top 6 finish. MOT MOT Perhaps they are waiting until January to see how we’re getting on in the league – if we look fairly safe and stable then they might be inclined to offer Championship wages to some of the players. Kisnorbo may well be judged on the verdict from the medical team – if they feel he is just too injury prone then they may refrain from offering him a new deal at all. I’d like to see us tie up Kilkenny, Somma and Kisnorbo (injury report dependant) on new deals, as I feel they do bring something to our side. The others could quite happily go on a free for me. They are easily replaced. MOT Missed out Luciano there – obviously I’d like to keep him on too! chris from wakey If the player is being greedy, and we wouldn’t get to know this, then let him go. If he’s been realistic then give a bit and keep him – assuming of course that he is a “reasonable quality” player. Based on some / most of the loan signings so far I’m inclined to “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. Be honest – we have signed some real nob-heads in the past year. I am aware that Mr Bates does not appear to be an over generous person but he’s still a better long term bet that Peter Ridsdale – we might not have good team but at least we’ll have a team and stadium to moan about. henry vincent lewis You had me worried there MOT! I think Ken has had a bee in his bonnet (correctly) about giving long 2/3 years contracts to the wrong players. IF we were to get promoted we would need a lot of top quality players. I suspect we will not be offering contracts to too many this time. Kisnorbo will not be going anywhere in his condition, but I suspect we would be reluctant to offer more than 12 months? Petter-Andre (Norway) Regarding Paddy, I believe Bates said during the summer that he’s a player the club definitly want to keep, but that they had to wait with the negotiations until the extent of his injury was clear and they were certain he was coming back in to contention for the first 11 again. I also believe Paddy said that was no problem at all and that he was just appreciative of the excellent medical staff we have. Sounds fair to be honest that he gets his contract negotiated when fit again. He abviously knows we love him, so I’m very confident he’ll re-sign again shortly after his comeback… BTW, anyone remember when he was due to come back again? December sometime wasn’t it? Dje I think it was New Year. But this later date might have been regarding him as ‘fully fit’, and December as the ‘return to training’ date. No guarantees mind. Craig @Petter-Andre (Norway) @djedjedje According to Wikipedia – and admittedly its accuracy can be questioned – Grayson said he’ll be out ’til Feb/March following another operation last month. Dje @craig Wow. They kept that little bit of news quiet on the LUFC website then. Bad news or otherwise, you’d have thought they’d have been a bit more prominent with it considering he is a fans’ firm favourite and clearly missed. Dje @henryv Unfortunately Bates very much drove the bee out of his bonnet over the summer then. 15 players have already come in and most of those are on three year contracts. Yes they could be having teething problems, but if a fit again Kisnorbo can’t be accommodated into the wage restrictions placed on the club after offering three year contracts to Bessone, Connolly, Collins, and Bruce at the back, then it has to be regarded as a disastrous transfer and wage policy, IMHO. Petter-Andre (Norway) Agreed! paul Everyone talks about Kis coming back,but just remember Michael Bridges never got back to what he was after the achilles injury and he was a lot younger. Maybe we are not going to offer contacts to players with a doubt over them. superhoops Realisitcally we only want to be keeping Somma, Becchio, Kilkenny and Kisnorbo. And to caveat that we only want Paddy if he’s proven his fitness and we could take or leave Becchio given Paynter, McCormack etc waiting in the wings. Dje @paul Fair point. Personally I’d welcome back Kisnorbo’s wise organisation and leadership skills at the back – what O’Brien is ideally currently bringing. Long term injuries usually are more noticeable with strikers and wingers such as Bridges where them now being a yard of the pace is more measurable than at the back where reading the game can compensate. Granted though you do still need two legs to stand on; a pair of working knees are handy too. James Morris I wouldn’t even bother with half of them that are out of contract to be honest. Keep Neil Kilkenny, Luciano Becchio, Davide Somma, and possibly Patrick Kisnorbo, Shane Higgs, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes Alan Martin, Jason Crowe, Andy Robinson, Lubomir Michalik, Bradley Johnson can all leave for me. Quite simply not good enough for Championship football never mind Championship salaries. James Morris I forgot to mention Fedde Bessone.. Surely Leeds can sue him for breach of contract or something ?? Telling us he was a left back footballer… Dje @James Morris. Lol. I think Bessone’s defense lawyer would have good grounds for suggesting that some bung went down in the first place. songster23 I would keep Somma, Becchio and Paddy (if fit) and thats all. I feel Johnson can be replaced, Kilkenny has an attitude problem (according to reports from inside TA) and Howson is a better all round player, the rest will just help to cut the wage bill and hopefully clear some space for higher caliber players. Des I would not keep wont tackle/cant tackle Kilkenny Badf player and bad attitude trueyorxman @james morris Absolutely bang on mucker. He’s our version of that striker that Souness brought on for the Saints years ago who claimed to a cousin of George Weah & therefore a footballer TheReaper08 My guess is as we don’t invest money in transfers we don’t need to worry about recouping anything at the back end ! TheReaper08 @TSS Don’t diss the Hughes…. Gryff Fans have a right to be concerned with The Yorkshire Evening post listing Neil Kilkenny, Davide Somma, Luciano Becchio, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes and Patrick Kisnorbo amongst the other players yet to sign a new deal. Of that list my own personal views are: Neil Kilkenny: extraordinarily overrated. Apparently one of the ‘unofficial leaders’ in the team. But I see him more as a whiner and a tiny, unfit little Ozzie who can’t play more than 60 minutes without becoming exhausted and who refuses to do his bit defensively (and when persauded, looks hapless at best). Richard Naylor: He was very important to us when he first signed. But right now Bromby is about on a par with him in my books. Paddy Kisnorbo: Is our number-1 player. But as Casper’s shown an injury can damage a player’s form. Kisnorbo will have been out a comparable time to Bridges and is ageing at the same time. I don’t think i’d offer Paddy a particulaly lucarative deal because I think this injury is the end of him as a Championship player. Andy Hughes: Gives his all, isn’t particularly technically gifted. He looks rubbish in his native centre-midfield. That said, he’s probably our second-best left defender with Parker on the long-term crock list, and Bessone really struggling. He did an admirable job last season when our defence was falling apart, and he’s proven one of our few consistent players this season when called upon. Davide Somma: For me he has the Beckford instinct that Becchio lacks. He’s got an abysmal first touch like Beckford, but not so much pace etc. Unlike Beckford, he finishes more he’s given. Somma is well worth a contract. Becchio: A solid Championship forward. He’s not the best in the world but he’s doing an average mid-table forward’s job quite well. In terms of Beckford sagas, I think Somma/Becchio have the potential to end up this way. But Kisnorbo/Naylor probably aren’t renewing despite how good they were in the past, while Kilkenny certainly isn’t good enough for the team despite his debatable skills. Andy Hughes, well it’s hardly game-changing to lose him… minus15 70% of the players mentioned are deadwood. As much as it pains me, Kisnorbo will struggle to ever resemble the player he was. if we are to take it to the next level most of these names will need replacing anyway. Mediocrity won’t cut it anymore if we are to progress, future acquisitions will need to be far more ambitious than messrs. Kilkenny, Johnson et al. les irwin asside from kisnorbo i wouldnt be bothered too much if any or all of those left i think naylor will get another year becchio will leave for another club to get his agent some dosh ,braders too hughesy is too old and will go to league 1 killa not sure .somma will leave for free as i don,t think he will be playing then ,intresting bates is having ago at the academy as its been 2 years since we had a 1st teamer academy players are cheap in fact free .no more money being spent les irwin just another thought that bates and co new that all these players were out of contract which is why no money was spent ,because they knew we could replace players and spend next year ,the worrying thing is that a good few players will need replacing and bedding in could be a monkey on the teams back Colin We’re all missing a major point here – stop thinking Leeds and start thinking Championship. It’s not a dozen beckford sagas, it’s more like ten dozen. Most Championship teams are in the same boat. How did Leeds get so many free signings this season – because the other teams weren’t willing to offer them new contracts at the wages that the players wanted, so they were available and we got them. Look at some of the tat that we have on expiring contracts – Bradley Johnson, Neil Kilkenny, Davide Somma, Luciano Becchio, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes and Patrick Kisnorbo. Somma, Becchio and possibly Kisnorbo are worth keeping on. But the rest you could replace with other like minded and more capable players on expiring contracts. If they are all on an average of £7,500 a week, then that costs Leeds £3m a year. As an example – Kilkenny, Leeds can easily get hold of another Championship player on an expiring contract, that is either equal to or better than Kilkenny. So if Kilkenny is on £7,500 but wants a new contract at £10,000 a week for 3 years, then it’s a no brainer. You let him go. You get a better player whose contract is expiring at £8,500 a week on a 3 year contract and not only do you have a better player, but you’re paying less than you would if you kept Kilkenny on. It’s not about the signing fee, and all about the wages. Let’s face it, if Leeds put up Kilkenny in the January transfer window, do you seriously think you’d get £500,000 for him. No chance. For once, the clubs are in the driving seat, and the bigger the club, the better position you’re in. Which is good news for Leeds. Bad news for squad fillers like Hughes and players who want larger contracts like Bradley Johnson. minus15 Quite right, Colin. Bates is too shrewd for this situation to be a coincidence. It’s not like any of them have set the world alight. We need more quality to kick on, as shown by Cardiff last week.