With a little help from The Scratching Shed’s followers on Twitter and Facebook, we’ve compiled a list of Leeds United’s top five signings since relegation from The Premier League back in 2003.

5. Max Gradel

Arriving on loan from Leicester City in 2009, a series of game-changing appearances from the bench instantly made “Mad” Max Gradel a favourite amongst the Leeds United faithful.

Gradel made such an impact that he was greeted with chants of ‘Grayson sign him up’ every time the young Ivorian entered the field or impressed the Whites fans with his flair and enthusiasm.

After signing permanently in January 2010, Gradel slowly became an ever-present in Leeds’ starting line-up and consistently stood out as one of Leeds’ most exciting players. However, the same enthusiasm and passion that make him a great player also led to his sending off in the crucial final game of the 2009/10 season as his frustrations got the better of him and he stupidly landed a red card.

Gradel vowed to make up for his error in judgement and has done so spectacularly throughout the 2010/11 season with 14 goals to date.

4. Kasper Schmeichel

The biggest shock of the summer has to be the moment that Leeds United revealed Kasper Schmeichel had refused Premier League competition in favour of a move to Leeds.

No stranger to a challenge, Kasper had spent the previous season at Notts County helping them to promotion by keeping more clean sheets than any other team in the league.

His performances for Leeds United have perhaps been overshadowed by the terrible defensive record the Whites have kept throughout his first season at the club, but the Dane has showed time and time again that he’s capable of world class saves at defining moments of matches.

His fourth place spot on the list also factors in the resale value of his capture. Arriving for nothing and with Premier League teams already interested, Kasper Schmeichel’s transfer to Leeds was a shrewd piece of business.

3. Jermaine Beckford

Had it not been for the manner in which he left the club, Jermaine Beckford would probably be considered the best transfer Leeds have made since we were relegated from the Premier League in 2004.

With the vultures circling overhead, throwing £50 notes and promises of stately homes and fast cars in Beckford’s direction, the new contract we were so desperate for him to sign never transpired. Instead, he left for Everton at the end of 2009/10 on a free transfer, with Leeds affectively throwing several million pounds down the drain.

Having joined the club from non-league Wealdstone for next to nothing however, Jermaine Beckford’s 85 goals in 152 appearances for the Whites means he must be considered one of our all-time bargains. Defining moments like his goal that knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup and the one that won us promotion from the Championship are priceless memories few Leeds fans will ever forget.

2. Luciano Becchio

Costing less than Berbatov, and scoring more goals is just one of a million reasons why the Whites faithful love Argentinian striker Luciano Becchio.

Not the most gifted finisher Elland Road has ever seen – far from it in fact – he makes up for his limited skill with an unremitting determination and work-ethic that is hard for even the most hardened of critics to knock.

Joining the club from Spanish side Merida in 2008, Becchio has since made 139 appearances for the Whites scoring 53 goals in the process. An ever-present in Simon Grayson’s Leeds United line-up and a fans favourite to boot, it’s hard to imagine a Leeds United side without Luciano Becchio hustling opposition defences.

1. Robert Snodgrass

For me, the hands down winner of Leeds United’s best signing since relegation has to be Robert Snodgrass. Arriving at Elland Road in July 2008, the winged wizard quickly established himself as one of Leeds United’s most valuable assets.

With 28 goals in 134 appearances, his goal return is pretty impressive for someone playing wide on the wing, but Snodgrass’ real strength lies in his ability to make opposition full-backs look like rank amateurs before providing deliveries that strikers feast on.

Alongside Max Gradel, Snodgrass has become the primary source of Leeds United’s creativity and attacking threat. Arriving on a free from Livingston, and now regarded as one of the most prized assets outside the Premier League, Robert Snodgrass (and Luciano Becchio) stand testament to Gary McAllister’s eye for a player.

Disagree? Who do you think should have been number one?

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50 Responses

  1. James McGuirk

    Agree with top three anyway. Is Kasper here long enough to be credited a spot in top five? And if so what about Kisnorbo?

    • TSS

      There was a few battling it out for the final two spots. The four main contenders were Max, Kasper, Dougy and Kis.

      Of the four, I felt Kasper was an absolutely amazing transfer whose saves have earned us a lot of points this season. I was also considering the amount of money players will sell for, and of the entire list, Kasper comes near the top.

      Max – will probably be higher the next time such a list is compiled, but it’s hard to forget the naivety of some of his play and the mistakes he’s made.

      Kis – Missed out due to the injury. That simple really. If he was still in the squad today, he’d likely be top three.

      Dougy – His exclusion was the toughest one. He just missed out.

  2. Dje

    Whilst I think Snodgrass will be our highest achiever – I just hope with us! – for consistency in scoring goals (regardless of his conversion ratio) season after season, essentially our first goal machine since Bridges and Viduka, and his non-league rags to Premiership riches tale, it’s got to be Beckford.


    We should have made McAllister our chief scout, not manager.

  3. Jonny

    I’d probably have Kisnorbo or Hulse instead of Kasper to be honest. Agree with the other 4 though.

  4. carl

    beckford have i guess played some match for us the season we were relegated from ccc

  5. Gryff

    Kasper is definitely going to be near the top in the next few years. That said, his fantastic saves are all too often undone by a silly mistake so until I know we’ve got him for another 4-5 years I’d not put him in the top 3.

    Mad Max has it every day of the week for me. Excellent work ethic, always enthusiastic. Just a pity he gets overheated every now and then. He’s great on the wing and going forward just like Snoddy, but unlike Snoddy I think he’s more consistent atm.

    Beckford was a fantastic player for us and his goal vs Man Utd puts him in my top5 already, but he’s left us as soon as he could.

  6. lewis

    beckford should’ve been first purely for what he’s done for leeds and himself. Schmeichel second, he’s a great goalkeeper and this season has kept us in alot of games. Becchio third and gradel then snoddy. gradel and snoddy arent consistent enough unfortunately both dont live up to their potential.

    purely my own thoughts on Leeds and i think every Leeds fans has their own thoughts too.


  7. Dje

    It is far easier to pick players who have contributed to our ‘turn around’ than those who didn’t and were handicapped by Blackwell being at Leeds.

    Of the ‘cursed’ I’d nominate Eddie Lewis. He always put in a good shift and was a class above most of the dross we had then and how we played. Loyal enough to stick with us when we dropped down to League One, but good enough to be taken on by a Premiership team all the same (one of only three: Beckford and Delph being the others).

    • Gryff

      Definitely agree with you there.

      He was a bit rubbish for Derby when he left us though, maybe he tried extra hard at ER?

  8. Gustavo

    what about leon constantine, filipe da costa & peter sweneey? hahaha

    • TSS

      Some of them may make the worst five list, which will follow later this week (well, as soon as I can narrow down the abundance of contenders anyway)

  9. Ranger

    I don’t think Beckford gets the recognition he deserves.

    Some of his goals make me do a little sex wee.

    Probably the best bargain buy ever.

  10. CJ

    Kisnorbo the best signing?! You’ve got to be joking?!!! Don’t know why everybody kisses his ass. He’s spent all his Leeds career in tretment room. My vote would have to go to Jermaine Beckford. Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore the massive impact he had. His goal at Old Trafford was icing on the cake.

  11. Andy Flynn

    Bloody hell TSS!!!! What a turnaround from your early season articles on Becchio. Fair play for admitting you were wrong and putting him in the top 5.

    I would add Kisnorbo to make the list 6 – our record with him in the team last year was phenomenal and we really did miss him when he got injured!

    If you were to keep it at 5 I would drop Beckford out. Controversial I know! However, Beckford never stayed to prove he could deliver at Championship level. I wonder now looking at the goals we have scored this year whether Beckford made us one dimensional and maybe the boo boys were right…..we may have been better without him. Personally, I’m glad he stayed and got that goal, but he would be 6th on my list.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!!

  12. Colin

    Beckford should have been the easy winner.

    With Leeds relegated to the 3rd division, in admin and on -15, and no cash to spend, then Leeds would have been in big trouble without his 20 goals.

    Without Beckford’s 25 league goals last season, we would be in Division 3 (and I’m not counting his 2 against Spurs or that Man Utd goal)

    The only reason Becchio is what he is, is because he had time to grow into the English game alongside Becks and wasn’t under pressure to score, because Becks did.

    And has Snodgrass completed a full season for Leeds without injury or burning out towards the end of the season?

  13. Andy Flynn

    Ps. Snoddy gets my vote for consistently performing at high level over longest period, but Max is catching him fast!

  14. CorbyWhite

    Good article and if i’m honest i agree! I think suggesting Kis is a bit silly if i’m honest as he only really played half a season for us! If he stayed fit without a doubt he would be in there, however he is too injury prone and saddened to think he won’t be getting a contract renewal.

  15. steve underwood

    At the start of the season i was one of becchio strongest critics i said he cant run pass or score at this level,well i was wrong and im happy to admit it.As for other snoddy for me at 1 he has done it for a few seasons now kasper is abit up and down,as for other players does howson count after all he sigend his first contract in the championship,other players that have done well danny pugh,butler,lewis,hulse,healy,hughes,all did well at some point

  16. steve underwood

    Just going away from leeds did anyone else fing wengers comments funny last night when he said barcelona were there for the taking in the second half and he was sure arsenal would win just wat was he watching

  17. number1inyorkshire

    beckford without a doubt his goal ratio was outstanding at any level .
    there have been a few good signings but lots of ones not so good ,vokes, mcsheffrey.etc etc etc ,on loan one of my faves been Dougie freedman ,don’t forget healy .
    lots of players have come and gone 3-4 teams worth and a sprinkling of managers and everyone has favorites from different seasons

  18. Chicago White

    Has to be Becks for me, if we had recalled him from scunny we would never had gone down in our relegation season. Kasper is good but just over 1/2 a season isn’t long enough IMO, Kis should have been in the 5.

  19. Irving08

    Snoddy just edges it over Beckford, since he’s done it for us in two divisions. But I wouldn’t argue if Becks came first. Personally I rate David Healy higher than Becchio, who wouldn’t be in my top 5. Gradel and Kisnorbo are my other top 5 picks.

  20. Dave Howson

    I reckon SG is the best signing we made.He works with whats on the table.Refuses to be drawn on a number of issues and although young is going places….lets hope its with us..

  21. Paul Cranswick

    For me the absence of Shaun Derry from everybody’s comments is baffling. Wise’s spat with him was for me the reason we got relegated in the first place. His steel in midfield now and we would be a shoe-in for promotion. Schmeichel looks the dogs bollocks to be fair but Sullivan also did a good job for us. The comment on McAllister as scout is excellent. Great spotter of talent but perhaps not able to get the best out of the team when things are getting tough. For me the worst piece of business done by the club was bringing Blackwell in. Eddie Gray and the kids would have been good enough to get us back up at first time of asking.

    • lorimerhotshot

      Interesting point about Derry. I thought about him myself. Have to admit I didn’t rate him at time as much as I do now. Perhaps that’s because of what we lack, though, rather than him being particularly good. Though has been doing pretty well lately

  22. lorimerhotshot

    Kasper – don’t need longer to judge him. It’s already obvious how good he is. He’ll only get worse if he breaks both legs or leaves. If you can break your leaves.

    Tempted by Healy over Becchio. Love Becchio and has probably delivered more, but the romantic in me falls for those occasional touches of class despite the frstrations. But in the end it has to be neither ‘cos ther has to room for…

    Beckford and

    Snoddy. Obviously. and

    Kis. Lot of people saying he’s been out too long to merit a place. try looking at it the other way round. Look what’s happened without him. And

    Still in hope as much as real fulfilment… the glorious Mad Max.

  23. Henry V

    Best striker, and defender from set pieces.
    Had been second fiddle to the excellent Beckford.
    Had to prove he could step into the No1 spot!
    Had to do it at a higher level!
    He signed a contract with us instead of hanging on for a free like Beckford, Johnson and Kilkenny!
    He loves the club and appreciates the chance he was given by Leeds.
    Top Man!

  24. Peter T

    Mad Max could turn out better than 5th if he continues to improve
    At half time against Bristol Rovers he would have been hung if the fans had the chance

    Just goes to show how things change

    Think there will be more debate about worst five
    A couple of potential candidates
    Kevin Nichols and Paul Butler


    Lets face it, they were all great singings, to be honest I think Bechio was our best signing, he has been here the longest and is consistent, Snoddy and Max on there day are world beaters, and could play in the premier, and Kasper is solid, would also agree about Kishnovo, who knows how far he would have come until his bad injury

  26. Matt BB

    i voted beckford, beacause as he is now proving at Everton he is a striker of premiership class, and we got him for buttons. He almost singlehandedly scored the goals that got us out of league one, and in deed did score the goal that got us out of league one.

    For me the manner of his leaving is immaterial, as he made us several million pounds by getting us promoted, and got us millions of pounds of tv revenue for beating man united.

    This isnt to play down the rest of the team last season by the way, many of whom have gone on in his basence to shine more brightly – and i include Snodgrass, becchio and gradel in that group.

    Now lets have the worst signings please, for there is some sort of sick delight in relishing at the wng wizadry of peter sweeney or filipe da costa, marvelling at sebastian Sorsas runs from midfield? But of course my favourite the sheer inexplicabiloity of an Enoch miss from 20cm.

    And what about Tresor Kandol..

  27. Matt BB

    the first XI we want to forget about

    Warner – Harding – Butler – Heath – Sa – Guppy – Hignett – Kishishev – Sweeney – Showunmi – Kandol.

  28. Mike

    I do not understand the negative thoughts on Beckford. We owe him for our being in Championship and thats a fact. Anybody in any profession is entitled to better himself and if we had paid him what he was worth he would probably still be here.
    The important thing about that gang of 5 is that 4 of them are still here and if Larry lets them off the leash they will take us up to the Premiership, why cant Larry see that?

  29. Matt BB

    apart from schmeicel arent they all aready off the leash? gradel has scored 14 – snodgrass 10 I seem to recall? becchio 17?

  30. Mike

    No they are not! they are restricted by his tactics and often bizarre selections such as tuesday which only paid of because of good fortune and the opposition being 3rd division material.
    They are restricted by his playing favourites and excluding players because their faces dont fit.

  31. Matt BB

    but we won? these guys are scoring goals for fun, are you suggesting they would be off the leash if they were socring 30 each?

  32. Craig

    Without a shadow of a doubt Snoddy is our best signing by a country mile. Not only for assists. His goal tally excellent, his work rate is fantastic and his attitude superb.

    If Max can cut out the poor decisions he sometimes makes with is final ball, he will definitely be up there with the best. Snoddy used to make these bad decisions also, but seems to have cut them out now.

    I would put Beckford up there in the top 5 for is goals to game ratio because that was excellent. Whoever said he is doing it in the premiership must be watching a different season to me, because I don’t agree with that at all. What I do agree with though was the guy who said we were one dimentional with him in the team. It’s no coincidence to me that Bechio,Snodgrass, Gradel and even Howson are all scoring goals, and in a higher division without Beckford in the team!!

    And anybody who can put Heally in the list ahead of Beccio beggers belief. Heally said all the right things, but did no work, never made a tackle, never attempted to head the ball and didn’t score the goals Beccio is scoring now. I know he was sometimes played out of position, but he never showed 10% of the heart that Beccio shows every game. And you can bet if Beccio has a bad game which he certainly does, he will still make it hard for the defenders he is up against.

    Jury is still out on Kasper for me?
    he is certainly a great shot stopper, which he proved again against Preston the other night. I still have concerns about his communication with the back 4. My main issue with him though, and I have said this before, he always wants to kick the ball. now on one occasion On Tuesday he quickly kicked out a fantastic ball to put us the attack and that’s great. But does he have to kick out every goal kick. I have a real issue with goalkeepers kicking the ball up front every time. The higher standard you go the defenders are better so inverably they win more of these balls, so gain possesion cheaply.If he just give the ball to our fullback, they have time to find one of our midfielders to start an attack, if he gets closed down, the fullback can kick the ball up front to the strikers just as well as the goalkeeper can!!
    Obviously Kasper might of been told to always kick the ball, and also this relies on the fullbacks wanting the ball in the first place????

    Just a couple of my opinions. Great debate.

    • Old Billy White

      Agree abouth always kicking the ball out, it becomes 70/30 in the defenders favour at best. Teams like Swansea, Leicester let the keeper role the ball to the back four, and keep the ball. However you need defenders who are comfortable on the ball to do this.

  33. Heats

    First of all, great article!

    Beckford, although his attitude to the fans and the club may not have been the best, is owed a lot of credit for what he did! Might not have worked the hardest but made the difference when it counted.

    Kisnorbo – probably one of the most rock solid defenders i’ve seen at leeds since relegation! Plus purley for the blood sweat and tears (mainly due to that head injury) that were on his white shirt after every game, one of few players i’ve seen give 100% no matter what game.

    Gradel – Definitely deserves the mention, other than Johnny Howson and Snoddy, of the players who havent just stepped up the Championship but gone that step further. Someone said earlier he isn’t consisten enough?! I think he’s the most consistant player at this moment in time. He does his job and Mccartney’s half of the time! tracking back and then racing forward, terrorising defenders.

    My only fault on Kasper at the moment is that his distribution seems to have gone down hill since the beginning of the season when he got that foot injury. To Craig, i don’t see any problem with him kicking it, not only do we have a frail defence at times, but with Becchio up there to win the header, Snoddy, Max and Howson to run of him, it often seems the best choice.

  34. Mike

    The problem with kicking out is you stand a solid chance of losing possession and as long as you have possession the opposition cannot score, you have control, this is something requiring work, keeping possession and learning how to pass, old fashioned,effective football.

  35. Henry V

    I am pretty sure Kasper is kicking it where he has been told to. It must be part of the training routine.
    My mind boggles to think he would start rolling it out to our defence!
    None of them are confident on the ball, apart from maybe Bruce.
    At least if we lose it, it is well away from our goal.
    Maybe with Barry Bannan we may try playing in our half of the pitch?

    • Gryff

      Bruce & O’Brien seem pretty confident to me. Lichaj can be woeful defending but to me he stands out as a good wing-back (perhaps in the Italian sense, with 3 centre-backs and wing-backs instead of wingers). Give it to him and i’d imagine he, Snodgrass and Howson could pass it about reasonably.

      McCartney I’m not so sure about :)

      I think it has to be a pragmatic approach. If the long kicks don’t work, put it to the defenders. It’ll keep the opposition on their toes too.

  36. Craig

    To Heats, first thing Beccio certainly goes up for headers, but it is very rarely he wins it “cleanly”
    Second thing, it is very unusual that when he wins the headers any of our midfielders have “gambled” to get on the end of it. The odds are against Beccio winning the headers so the midfielders can’t possibly be on the end of his “knock” on. That’s my point. the amount of times Kasper kicks the ball dictates that the midfielders can’t gamble and be in that position for that amount of times in a game, thus giving the ball back to the opposition!

  37. Mr Nif

    hi. number one signing is easy for me: Simon Grayson. I reckon Naylor was catalyst of the turn around that finally turned us round and would have to feature.

  38. Ben Pugh

    Totally agree with top three.I d have the incredable hulse at 4 and a first season johnathan douglas at 5.His performance in his first game after signing permanently from blackburn was probably one of the best league performances in a leeds shirt i ve seen since our prem days.

  39. Jody Jones

    No mention of Andy Hughes throughout the debate? Not saying he deserved top 5, but for sheer effort, willingness to play anywhere to help the team, and signing on -15, I can’t believe everyone has forgotten him already.

    Snoddy at No.1 for me, Beckford 2nd, a very close Becchio 3rd, Naylor 4th, and why not, Hughesy 5th

    Jury still out on Gradel for me. Not brilliant last year, only coming into his own this year. We football fans are fickle with short memories, and we must remember the rough if we,are to savour the smooth


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