What will Michael Cuisance bring to Leeds United?

Despite the fact that Leeds United have already spent a lot of money this summer, they are still not satisfied and are pressing for new arrivals before the transfer window closes.

Looking to build a squad capable of competing in the Premier League, they have turned to the transfer market this summer and brought in some new faces. But not just any new faces, they have managed to land Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia and Robin Koch from Freiburg among others. Oh, and Diego Llorente also recently completed his switch to Elland Road, joining from Real Sociedad.

Not bad for a newly promoted club, eh?

Leeds have made a number of high-profile signings this summer /Pool/Getty Images

But one of the areas Marcelo Bielsa is still looking to strengthen in the remainder of the window is midfield. It has been made quite clear that the club are indeed looking to increase their options after a new midfielder.

Rodrigo De Paul has been heavily linked, but Udinese’s assessment of the player has stalled a move in recent days. Another name that has been mentioned is Rafinha Alcántara, but they have now set their sights on Bayern Munich’s Michael Cuisance.

Leeds have already offered €20m (£18.1m) for the midfielder, while personal terms have also already been agreed with Cuisance as he is keen to play regular first-team football. The majority of Leeds fans were excited by the links with De Paul (and rightly so), but Cuisance could be the man they need to strengthen in the center of the park.

Leeds and Bayern Munich are in talks for Michaël Cuisance. Personal terms are already agreed upon. €20m as the final fee offered by Leeds to complete the deal. ⚪️ #LUFC #Bayern #transfers https://t.co/WZ8c4TjUH8

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 29, 2020

After all, Bielsa has personally identified him as a target.

The obvious place to start is his style of play and how he would fit into the midfield. Sure, Pablo Hernandez may have won the Player of the Year award for United last season, but now 35, Bielsa needs to manage his minutes. And with their return to the top flight, the need for a long-term successor is greater than ever.

Leeds have already shown this term that they know where the goal is, in fact their eight goals this season are the third highest in the division. Goal threat is not an issue, but there is a need to bring more box to the box player, who can split open defenses with incisive passes while providing stability in midfield.

Cuisance will provide balance to the Leeds midfield/DeFodi Images/Getty Images.

This is what Cuisance can bring. Drawing comparisons with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, the left-footed Frenchman has the ability to play in either an attacking midfield role or a slightly deeper role. Not only can he create an absolutely weighty team with the ball, but he also has the skills to spread play and execute cross-field passes as well as outmaneuver the opposition with ease.

Equally, however, he would bring stability to the midfield and help Leeds gain more control. As impressive as he has been in the early stages of the 2020/21 season, Kalvin Phillips needs more help blocking spaces and making sure runners aren’t allowed through. Against Fulham in particular, this became abundantly clear as Andre-Frank Zembo-Anguisa continued to pick up pockets of space to work with, without Phillips being able to get close himself.

Philips would benefit from more support / Poll / Getty Images.

While the addition of a player like De Paul would undoubtedly help United to go forward in attack, Cuisance would provide more balance – while also having the quality to open up the defense when on the ball.

While comparisons have been drawn with Ozil, Cuisance’s impressive range of passing has also seen him compete with the likes of Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara and former Manchester United player Michael Carrick. It’s quite a company.

Cuisance can easily slot into the midfield alongside Phillips and Mateusz Klich. As well as dictating games through his passing range, the 21-year-old also has the ability and athleticism to carry the ball from deep before picking out a teammate. The different elements of his game make him an interesting talent.

But importantly, he is not necessarily a direct replacement for Hernandez. Instead, he will bring versatility as he is capable of operating in a number of different positions – making him a very important figure under Bielsa. Cuisance will be able to work alongside Phillips at the base of midfield, as well as Klich in the ‘number eight’ position, or even further forward.

Part of a Bayern team that constantly presses out of possession, Cuisance has developed that side of his game – even if he has struggled for minutes. Through his excellent reading of the game, he is also able to win the ball back for his side.

It’s this versatility that will allow Bielsa to tinker with his formations and setups without too much risk or confusion.

Well, it all sounds just fantastic, doesn’t it?

Cuisance’s role has been questioned by some / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

Despite his talent on the field, there have been some doubts about whether he would be the right fit for Leeds due to his off-the-pitch problems during his career. His exit from Borussia Mönchengladbach has been well-documented, while his attitude problems are said to have persisted at Bayern as well.

This has led many fans to suggest that such a role is not needed by the leads, or that he would disrupt the harmony within the squad. But the reality is that United can offer Cuisance the one thing he is after: regular game time. Bielsa has made it clear he is keen to join the midfielder, and will make sure he buys into the philosophy and style.

Despite the record, his role should not be a cause for concern. This is a player who, at a very reasonable €20m, ticks all the boxes as far as Moore and Bielsa are concerned. Perhaps best of all, at just 21 years old, Cuisance is still learning and will only improve with more regular playing time.

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