How Bamford has adapted while Dan James and Todd Cantwell can offer Leeds more

The Premier League always seemed like a step too far for Patrick Bamford. At Crystal Palace and Norwich and Burnley and Middlesbrough, it didn’t work out, and when he dropped down to the Championship three years ago many expected him to stay at that level.

But Bamford was young and relatively inexperienced the last time he took to the pitch in the top flight. He was also mostly a bit-part player at his various clubs, never given a prolonged run as the main man up front.

For Leeds, he has Marcelo Bielsa’s complete trust, and that clearly makes a huge difference. He is in such fine form early in the season that he is keeping Rodrigo, the club’s record signing, out of the team.

It could be said that Bamford has adapted to life in the Premier League, but it’s more likely that he is so in tune with how this Leeds team play that scoring goals comes relatively easily.

The step up from the Championship is significant, of course, though Leeds always seemed like a Premier League quality team last season. And, given the right service, Bamford is an intelligent, composed striker.

He has three goals in his first three appearances this campaign, the latest of which came in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Sheffield United. The ball from Jack Harrison was immaculate, and Bamford’s downward header gave his side a late victory.

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There is, perhaps, a suggestion that Bamford might have had more goals if Leeds were even more incisive in their attacking play. They transition and work the ball through the lines better than some of the division’s most expensively assembled teams, but the final ball can sometimes be lacking.

That might be why Bielsa is believed to be searching for another attacking midfielder or winger. Norwich ’s Todd Cantwell has been linked with a move to Elland Road, and wasn’t in Daniel Farke’s squad for today’s game against Bournemouth. The prospect of the 22-year-old sliding passes through to Bamford will excite Leeds fans.

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Bringing in Dan James on loan from Manchester United is a possibility, too, though he has different strengths. The rapid Welshman is out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Bielsa is clearly a fan given he tried to sign him early last year, before he made the switch to Old Trafford.

There has also been talk of a return to Leeds for Ross Barkley, who had a spell on loan at the club in 2013. He has gone on to big things since, but appears to be surplus to requirements at Chelsea and would add real quality to Bielsa’s side.

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All of these players would add another element to Leeds’ attack and provide more creativity for Bamford, who at 27 now looks to be in his prime. He was always a talent – no one joins Chelsea as a youngster without plenty of ability – but he now looks to have finally found his home.

Bamford had scored one goal in 27 Premier League appearances before Leeds returned to the top flight. He had something to prove, and so far he has done exactly that. With added quality behind him, things could get even better for the in-form striker.

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