In any other summer over the past years, signing Barry Douglas could have easily gone down as Leeds’ biggest statement. In 2018, the deal for the Scotsman was overshadowed by the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa, perhaps as well as the deal to sign Patrick Bamford.
Douglas seemed to be the shrewder signing. But spending £10 million on Bamford (via Middlesbrough’s official website) sent out a real message after two disappointing previous windows under the guidance of Victor Orta.
No summer signing has been more involved in Marcelo Bielsa’s plans than Douglas. And yet, cruelly, relief is the prevailing emotion following the news that he has sustained an injury that is set to keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
The 29-year-old began the campaign with three assists in his first eight appearances for the Whites. He looked well on his way towards matching or eclipsing his remarkable tally of 14 assists for Wolves last year.
But no assists have come since September. Douglas has not played badly in that time. But there is a sense that we have not yet seen the player that many Wolves fans were stunned to lose over the summer.
Blessing in disguise?
So perhaps his injury could prove to be the best thing to happen to the full-back since his move. Bielsa dropping Douglas, when the alternatives are youngsters Tom Pearce and Leif Davis, would have appeared a strange decision.
This way, Douglas is now out of the firing line for the time-being. He can recharge his batteries, and we are already starting to look forward to having him back in the team. By the time he returns, his popularity should evoke memories of when he first arrived.
Even when he is not at his best, Douglas is still one of the finest full-backs in the Championship. At his best, few in the division come close.
And after such a difficult spell, perhaps this injury could prove to be a defining moment in Douglas’ season, and his return could be the moment when Leeds truly find out how good their inspired summer signing really is.