Not content with the acquisitions of a trio of Leeds United players within the past two years, Norwich City continued their raid on the Yorkshire side on transfer deadline day with the long anticipated signature of Luciano Becchio, Leeds’ leading goal scorer this season.
The transfer was hardly met with surprise. Precedence indicates that players departing Elland Road usually opt for a one way ticket to Norwich as their destination, and when the Argentine handed in a transfer request a week before the closure of the window, a move to Norwich always appeared to be the likeliest scenario.
He follows in the footsteps of Bradley Johnson, Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass, who have all made that very same journey south, highlighting the contrasting times that the two clubs are experiencing. Ten years ago the thought of Leeds becoming akin to a feeder club for Norwich would have been laughable, but with Leeds now treading water in the second tier and Norwich looking well set to maintain their Premier League status for a third consecutive season, it is logical as to which is the more attractive club to play for at present.
It is tough to begrudge Becchio this move. At 29 his career, whilst far from over, is entering its twilight years, and the opportunity to play in arguably the greatest league in the world isn’t one which would come along again all too often. That he gets to link up with his former teammates and good friends is an added bonus. The reality is that Leeds look well short of being capable of challenging for promotion in the immediate future, so the only way Becchio could guarantee Premier League football is a move away from Elland Road.
Like Johnson, Howson and Snodgrass before him, the realisation has dawned that Leeds haven’t the financial capacity to challenge at this moment, and Becchio’s only regret could well be that, if anything, he remained at Leeds a little too long.
The Argentine has been a fantastic servant for Leeds, and departs with nothing but respect and gratitude from the Leeds faithful. Bought in by Gary McCallister as a relatively unheard of player from South America, he quickly made his mark and won over the Leeds fans with his effort, commitment, and most crucially of all, his goals.
He formed a lethal partnership with Jermaine Beckford, and after the latter’s departure, he acclimatised and flourished in the role of a lone striker, comfortably making the step up from League One to Championship football in the process.
He has scored goals for Leeds on a consistent basis, and his 19 this season have at least kept The Whites within touching distance of the play off places. Whether he can emulate this success at the very top level of English football remains to be seen, but Becchio has the great knack of getting into the right places at the perfect time, and if he is given adequate supply, then there is no reason why he won’t continue to score goals to aide Norwich in their bid for survival.
As part of the transfer, Leeds, in return have received a transfer fee plus Steven Morison who, after impressing under Paul Lambert last season, has found opportunities more limited this campaign. A change of manager and formation has seen Morison restricted to the periphery of the Norwich squad.
Neil Warnock made no secret of his delight at bringing Morison in. After all, he is a striker who comes with bags of experience at this level, and like Becchio, is a natural goal scorer. Only time will tell as to whether Leeds benefit long term from this swap deal, but it is certainly an improvement on the recent transfer philosophy at Elland Road of selling the top players without a replacement in mind and thus leaving a gaping hole in the heart of the side.
At 29, Morison is of identical age to Becchio and he arrives with the burden of replacing the goals of the Argentinian, not an envious job. But is is a job he has managed before, Millwall were heavily reliant on Morison’s goals during his three year tenure at the club and any late push from Leeds will surely depend again on Morison’s ability in front of goal.