Leeds United would not have stayed in the Premier League last season were it not for Jack Harrison.
Of course, Raphinha was, by some distance, our best player. However, Harrison’s contribution must not be overlooked.
He was nowhere near as consistent as the Brazilian. There were plenty of times when the 25-year-old looked a shell of the player who had shone during what would prove to be his final year on loan at Leeds.
But Harrison’s eight league goals were pivotal. Leeds did not lose a single game in which Harrison scored, winning five and drawing one.
Unsurprisingly, that led to speculation about his future.
The Athletic reported that Newcastle made two bids for the wide-man. Meanwhile, Sky Sports suggested that Tottenham were keen in the latter stages of the window. Leeds held firm however, and wanted more than £60 million as the deadline loomed.
At the time, that seemed very reasonable. He seemed invaluable to Leeds after providing three assists and scoring one goal in our opening three games of the campaign.
Now however, the stance may possibly need revising. Quite simply, Harrison has not been the same player over the last few weeks. And if a team comes calling with a big bid in a future window, Leeds would be foolish not to seriously consider it.
Harrison has not provided a goal or assist for Jesse Marsch’s side since that win over Chelsea. And in truth, it is hard to remember too many fixtures along the way where he has changed the game for the Whites.
His effort in the win at Anfield was colossal. And some of his work as more of a number 10 against Arsenal was superb. But few would have been shocked when he was taken off at half-time against Bournemouth on Saturday.
For much of last season, it seemed absolutely imperative that Harrison stayed fit. Along with Raphinha, he was crucial to the success of the system. And Leeds simply did not have the depth to cope without him.
But now Crysencio Summerville is grasping his opportunity with both hands. Willy Gnonto has made an electric start. And we have not even seen the best of Luis Sinisterra thus far.
Leeds also play in a system under Marsch which is not designed to get the best out of a winger.
His contract situation
Harrison is out of contract in 2024 (Transfermarkt). You would imagine that Leeds are working behind the scenes to agree fresh terms with the Englishman. However, you have to wonder if they will be able to reach an agreement.
Harrison will be well aware of what he can do. And Leeds may feel that they have not seen that often enough more recently.
He also turns 26 later this month. So he will know that signing a new contract may tie him down to Leeds for most of the peak years of his career.
While he is struggling to find his way, the previous links with Newcastle and Spurs will leave him with food for thought.
Leeds’ transfer policy
Leeds are never going to be the biggest spenders under the current owners – which is fine. But what that does mean is that the club’s transfer budget is largely going to be made up of money brought in from player sales.
This past summer, the departures of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha allowed Marsch to oversee something of an overhaul.
Players such as Illan Meslier have been earmarked by fans to potentially help Leeds out in a similar way in the future. But Harrison is another who could attract a very large fee.
And while he is not making the game-changing impact, Leeds may feel that it is shrewd to cash in in the hope that his exit can enable Victor Orta to uncover a few more gems.
This possibly reads as something of an attack on Harrison. But it would not be at all surprising if Harrison goes and scores twice against Tottenham on Saturday and we’re suddenly reminded of just how good he can be.
Kalvin Phillips labelled Harrison an ‘unbelievable‘ player last season. And you cannot disagree. In fact, he is probably one of, if not the most technically gifted player in our squad.
If he left, there is every chance that he would tear things up in the Premier League. He has flirted with reaching double figures for goals in both of his completed campaigns at the highest level.
But that is not necessarily a reason for Leeds to keep Harrison.
If Marsch is sticking around for the long-term, Leeds will be using a system that does not necessarily play to his strengths.
Leeds are going to sell some big players in the coming years. And Harrison’s contract is currently set to expire in just over 18 months.
Nothing would make us happier than if Harrison signs a new deal and his form makes this writer look like an idiot for doubting him.
But if his struggles continue for much of the rest of the campaign, it is surely fair to say that Leeds face a much tougher decision should a big bid arrive.