Tyler Adams to Leeds United transfer: Reunion with Jesse Marsch underway as the club replaces Kalvin Phillips

After falling out of favor under new coach Domenico Tedesco near the end of the season, American midfielder Tyler Adams could be on the move to the Premier League. Adams didn’t start RB Leipzig’s most important matches of the season, including the DFP Pokal final and the Europa League semifinals, showing a lack of trust in him by Tedesco. While moves need to be carefully considered by Adams due to his importance to the United States men’s national team in the upcoming World Cup, he’s a coveted player who could find more consistent minutes elsewhere. 

Leeds United on Monday reached an agreement for a £20 million fee to land the 23-year-old midfielder, CBS Sports transfer insider Fabrizio Romano reports. The fee also includes add-ons, so upfront it’s not much over the £12 million that RB Leipzig were looking for Adams. Thirty-three percent of any transfer fee paid to RB Leipzig will be sent to the New York Red Bulls as part of a sell-on clause negotiated when Adams went to Germany in 2019.  

After Kalvin Phillips moved to Manchester City, Jesse Marsch sought out the best way to replace him with all roads leading to Marc Roca and Adams. Given Adams’s age, Leeds will have the opportunity for him to increase his value in the future.

The deal progressed quickly as Leeds wanted to stave off interest elsewhere for Adams, with Everton linked as one of the interested teams. All that needs to happen for things to become official is for Adams to pass his medical now and put pen to paper. 

Along with being able to be deployed as a central or defensive midfielder, Adams has the bonus of being strong enough defensively to play as a right back in a pinch, similar to Stuart Dallas. Adams is pretty good at reading the game on the pitch and can give Marsch another coach in the team.

From lining up the midfield to obstruct passing lanes to diving in for a last minute tackle, it won’t take much for Adams to endear himself to Leeds United supporters. Adams would also be the third signing that Marsch has coached in the past joining fellow American Brenden Aaronson along with Rasmus Kristensen. Playing on the United States men’s national team doesn’t hurt either.

Here’s what to know:

Another reunion with Marsch 

Adams could reunite with his old coach Jesse March, who not only oversaw his development in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls, but also spent a brief stint coaching Adams at RB Leipzig last season before being fired in December. On the pitch, Adams has a limited range of passing, opting to play safer passes than pushing possession forward, but he’s an excellent shield for a back line and could naturally be the man to try and replace Phillips.

Being able to work with a coach who not only knows what he can do — but more importantly, what he can’t do — is critical to Adams’ success if he were to move to the Premier League. With Leeds already adding Kristensen from RB Leipzig at right back, a move for Adams could see Stuart Dallas move back to left back, where Junior Firpo struggled last season.

Moving on from Phillips

Without Phillips, Leeds United have a unique challenge because one player can’t replace what he did in midfield. Phillips not only covered a ton of ground in midfield but was also able to start attacks by himself with pinpoint passing. The closest comparison in the Premier League is Declan Rice of West Ham, who is out of the range of what Leeds can afford, with bigger clubs interested in him. This has caused Marsch and the board to get creative with reconfiguring the midfield.

Roca has already been added from Bayern Munich, and Adams would join him in creating the defensive shield. In front of them, it feels like Marsch is targeting a move to a 4-2-2-2 as Raphinha is likely to depart for Barcelona or Chelsea this summer. Aaronson, Mateusz Klich, Darko Gaybi, Daniel James, Jack Harrison, and Rodrigo can all play in the midfield, supporting the forwards. A shift like this will not only help Leeds maintain pressing cues and retain shape better, but it will also allow their forward four more space to be fluid in transition.

Another area where it helps is depth. Leeds were a team hit hard by injuries last season because the press requires so much from the entire squad. Not only can Marsch change large portions of the team as the Premier League will have five substitutes, but he will have more room to rotate, keeping his players fresh.

The United States of England

Leeds are quickly becoming a destination for players who have come through Major League Soccer and that’s not only because of Marsch. Jack Harrison was drafted by the Chicago Fire and traded to New York City FC in 2016. He also played in college at Wake Forest. After taking the league by storm, scoring 14 goals and assisting ten more in 55 starts, Harrison earned a move to Manchester City in January of 2018. While Harrison was never expected to catch on at City with the team having incredible depth and no room for him, loans to the Championship helped Harrison find a home with Leeds United.

With Aaronson starting his career with the Philadephia Union and Adams starting with New York Red Bulls, Leeds could have three starters next season who began their careers in MLS. It’s quite a trajectory as Miguel Almiron carried the banner for MLS to the Premier League, and it’s time to recognize the growth of MLS as a league, one that can produce talent for the rest of the world.

On top of all of that, the San Francisco 49ers ownership group, 49ers Enterprises, owns part of the club.

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