Daniel Farke has clearly settled on a preferred centre-back partnership at Leeds United this season, with Pascal Struijk and Spurs loanee Joe Rodon amassing more than 4,000 minutes of playing time between them. Club captain Liam Cooper has featured occasionally too (637 minutes), but one player who’s been conspicuous by his predominant absence up to this point is Charlie Cresswell.
Cresswell has only played four games in the Championship, and none since early October. His last start came in the 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City in the second game of the season, and he’s only been in the squad for three of the last 17 league games.
Speaking last week, Farke publicly addressed the situation, revealing that Cresswell hadn’t been “switched on and focused” when he wasn’t playing and had told the manager that he wasn’t happy with his situation. On that basis, Farke decided that he wasn’t “fully committed” to the cause, and has virtually axed him from the first-team.
Farke believes Cresswell wants out
Speaking on the Square Ball Podcast, via Leeds United News, journalist Phil Hay shed more light on Cresswell’s situation. Farke apparently believes the Englishman doesn’t “really want to be here” at the moment, and naturally, that could lead to a departure.
The German is apparently “adamant” that there should be four senior centre-halves in the squad, so his prospective exit could prompt Leeds to take action and sign a new addition for that back-up role.
Wober may offer Cresswell solution
Many Leeds fans would have expected Cresswell to play a significant role this season. While he’d been sent on loan to Millwall last year, this allowed him to gain valuable experience of playing in the Championship as he started 25 of the 35 games for which he was available. It wasn’t as if this was in the lower reaches of the division either – Cresswell helped Millwall finish just a point off the play-off places.
Then, in the summer, he was part of the England under-21 squad that won the European Championships without conceding a single goal, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 group-stage win over Germany. It looked like Leeds had a big talent on their hands, not just in the short-term but for the future too, and just a matter of months later, things are threatening to break down entirely.
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Leeds have already moved on a number of centre-halves since their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season. Robin Koch joined Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt on an initial loan, but they took the opportunity to sign a pre-contract agreement with a player whose Leeds deal is up at the end of the season. Elsewhere, Diego Llorente made a temporary switch to Roma, but the deal includes an £18m option to buy, so he may also have played his last game in a white shirt.
There’s no such mechanism in the loan agreement that saw Max Wober move to Borussia Monchengladbach, which could be significant. It’s unclear if Leeds have the option to recall Wober if Cresswell leaves, but there may be a gap for him in the defensive ranks for next season.