Leeds United may have found their Tyler Adams replacement in the form of Manuel Ugarte, who currently plays for Sporting Lisbon.
The Yorkshire club has reportedly entered into discussions to sign the defensive midfielder, a 22-year-old Uruguay international, in this summer’s transfer window. Leeds’ Director of Football Victor Orta is a fan of Ugarte, but Premiership survival will likely be a determining factor in whether or not the signing eventuates.
Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Wolves, and Newcastle United are also said to have an interest in the player, with the first three teams expected to play in Europe next season. The £53m release clause in Ugarte’s contract could be a financial sticking point for the Whites, particularly since Georginio Rutter cost £35.5m during his January signing.
Ugarte has a 7.07 rating from WhoScored based on his 2022-2023 performances in the Liga Portugal, which is significantly higher than any current Leeds player. He has been dubbed a “midfield machine,” with Jacek Kulig—football talent scout—recognizing his status as the top tackler in the Champions League in the early part of the campaign.
Ugarte’s FBref scouting report clearly demonstrates that the young midfielder is among the top 1% of European midfielders for successful pass completion rates and tackles per game, and is in the top 10% for interceptions and blocks. His tackling prowess and excellent passing skills make him an ideal candidate to replace Tyler Adams if the American player leaves the club.
Tyler Adams is reportedly being watched by Newcastle United and other European clubs. If he departs, Ugarte could prove to be a costly but worthwhile investment, given his promising performances for Sporting Lisbon in both domestic and European fixtures this season.