Leeds: 'Unwanted distraction' at Elland Road as £18m problem looms

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch

Leeds United’s ongoing court case regarding striker Jean-Kevin Augustin is a ‘real unwanted distraction’ for the club, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.

The west Yorkshire outfit’s case against RB Leipzig over the transfer of Augustin was heard earlier this week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and if they lose, they will be forced to stump up £18 million.

What is the latest news involving Augustin?

In January 2020, Leeds brought in the former France Under-21 international on loan from Leipzig as they continued to battle in the upper echelons of the Championship.

The deal reportedly included an obligation to buy for £18m if the Elland Road side achieved promotion back to the Premier League.

However, the 2019/20 season was disrupted by the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and was suspended in March and didn’t restart again until June.

Augustin’s loan officially ended on 30 June, though, and he returned to his parent club after playing just 48 minutes worth of football for Leeds.

But former manager Marcelo Bielsa then went on to guide Leeds back to the top-flight in the forward’s absence, and Leipzig argued that they were owed the agreed fee because Leeds were promoted.

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The English side disagreed with that stance, but FIFA intervened and ruled in Leipzig’s favour, ordering the Whites to pay up.

Leeds appealed, and CAS will decide in the coming months if they have to shell out £18m for Augustin, a player who left nearly two years ago and had little to no impact on the club.

What has O’Rourke said about Augustin?

The set fee would make Augustin Leeds’s joint-fourth highest ever purchase, and O’Rourke believes the drawn-out saga is something they ‘don’t need’ at this moment in time.

He told GiveMeSport: “It’s a real unwanted distraction for Leeds right now. They don’t need this going on in the background with important matters on the pitch to be sorted, to try and secure their Premier League status.”

Can Leeds avoid relegation?

Leeds ended a run of eight games without a victory last time out, seeing off 20th-placed Norwich City 2-1 thanks to an injury-time winner from Joe Gelhardt.

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That result left them sitting two places and four points above the relegation zone, but 17th placed Everton have three games in hand over Jesse Marsch’s charges, while 19th placed Burnley have two.

Only time will tell if Marsch’s arrival can propel Leeds to safety, but everyone at the club will surely be hoping the Augustin case doesn’t distract the players or staff from the task at hand.

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