Leeds have been finding this season that replacing a 30-goal striker is not an easy task.
The club earned £15million from the sale of Chris Wood to Burnley, but lost their figurehead in the process.
The task of replacing him has fallen this season to Pierre-Michel Lasogga, but his Leeds career – much like the club’s season – has been full of ups and downs.
His previous exploits, however, suggests that was to be expected…
Background in Germany
He began at Bayer Leverkusen, moving on to Hertha Berlin where a good start was scuppered by an ACL injury. Lasogga earned a loan move to Hamburg, where his career took off in the 2013/14 season.
The striker scored 15 goals in 24 games in all competitions, resulting in a senior Germany call-up for a friendly against Chile in February 2014.
Unfortunately, injury struck again as a muscular problem ruled him out. Although Lasogga scored the goal in the relegation play-off to keep Hamburg in the Bundesliga at the end of that season, Germany boss Joachim Low went with just Miroslav Klose in the 2014 World Cup-winning campaign.
While Germany celebrated their triumph, Lasogga’s career stalled. He failed to pass 10 league goals in the three seasons that followed and struggled badly with injury. Hamburg were keen to shift him off the books and subsidised a deal for him to move to Elland Road this summer.
Ups and downs at Elland Road
It started well for Lasogga as he scored two goals on his debut in a 5-0 drubbing of Burton. It looked as though Thomas Christiansen had found a replacement for Wood, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
As the club’s form dipped, so did Lasogga’s, with his lowest point coming away at Brentford when he was hauled off at half-time in a 3-1 defeat.
Leeds vs Bristol C
February 18, 2018, 4:15pm
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Injuries hit again and Lasogga didn’t start a game again for more than two months, and that came in the dismal FA Cup defeat at Newport.
Question marks hung over his future, but his form has since dramatically improved – even if Leeds’ hasn’t. There was a brace against Millwall and a goal at Sheffield United in Paul Heckingbottom’s first game in charge. Both, however, ended in defeat.
Lasogga’s style has also been questioned at times. He’s not the quickest and doesn’t seem to move easily around the pitch, with his workrate often criticised. Both Kemar Roofe and Caleb Ekuban offer more direct pace through the middle, but in Lasogga, Leeds have a target man to build their game around.
When fit, Lasogga has been competing with Roofe and Ekuban for that starting spot, and the German comes out on top in all the key areas. although he’s level on goals with Roofe.
Lasogga’s Leeds rankings in Championship Goals =1st Goals per game 1st Shots per game 1st Shots on target per game 1st Aerial duels won per game 1st Touches in opp box per game 1st
And his stats also compare well with the rest of the Championship. When Lasogga starts for Leeds, he’s third in the Championship’s list of goals per game. That’s 0.57 goals per game. Only Lewis Grabban, now of Aston Villa, and the league’s top scorer, Matej Vydra, have more.
Strikers starting in Championship – Goals per game Player Team Games played Goals Goals per game Lewis Grabban S’land/Aston Villa 18 12 0.67 Matej Vydra Derby 28 17 0.61 PM Lasogga Leeds 14 8 0.57 Leon Clarke Sheff Utd 27 15 0.56 Billy Sharp Sheff Utd 18 10 0.56
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship game between Sheffield United and Leeds. All-round game
Lasogga isn’t just decent with his feet, statistics show he’s handy as a target man too. He’s 10th on the list for aerial duels won when starting in the Championship, winning 4.64 headers per game. Gary Madine (8.86), now of Cardiff, has almost double that figure, as does Millwall’s Steve Morison (8.20), but both played for managers intent on finding them with long passes.
So are Leeds using Lasogga properly? He is down in 27th in the Championship in terms of touches in the box per game. Either Lasogga isn’t getting himself into the box enough, or his team-mates simply aren’t finding him.
Championship touches in box per game Player Team Touches in opp box/game Lasse Vibe Brentford 6.64 Steve Morison Millwall 6.16 Lee Gregory Millwall 5.96 Mo Barrow Reading 5.73 Neal Maupay Brentford 5.63 Pierre Michel Lasogga Leeds 3.86
Lasogga has looked hungrier and sharper since returning to the starting line-up. But if Leeds are to kick-start their faltering season, they need to find a way of getting Lasogga more sights at goal. He’s proven he can take them.
Don’t miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Leeds and Bristol City on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 4.15pm