Alan Hutton has played down any concerns about Leeds United transfer target Noa Lang struggling with the step-up to the Premier League. The former Rangers, Tottenham and Aston Villa defender was discussing the Club Brugge ace with Football Insider.
Leeds are said to be in talks with the Belgian champions over the signing of the 22-year-old winger, who is open to joining Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
He spent the 2020/21 season as an Ajax loanee before Club Brugge’s obligation to buy for €6m (£5.14m) was activated at the start of July.
The Dutchman finished in the top 10 in the Jupiler Pro League scoring charts last season, although former Premier League manager Alex McLeish warned on Friday that Lang could be in for a ‘shock’ if he moves to the English top flight given the enhanced ‘speed’ and ‘quality’.
Hutton stressed that Lang’s impressive numbers shouldn’t be discounted purely because of the league in which he plays. The Scot feels that Leeds adopt a risk-averse approach to transfers, evaluating players thoroughly to ensure they have what it takes to thrive under Bielsa.
The 36-year-old told Football Insider: “He’s playing in a strong Belgian league. It doesn’t matter who you come up against, you still have to go out there and do it.“To score 17 goals and get 11 assists, I’m pretty sure there will be quite a few people looking at him.“It will be more difficult but if he can replicate that in the Premier League or even do half of that, you would be more than happy.“Leeds don’t just buy a player on a whim, they don’t take a chance. They don’t have that mentality.“They cover all the bases with these players. If I see Leeds looking at a player, I always think he must be decent.”
Hutton makes a good point. Sometimes we’re too quick to question players who arrive from outside the top five leagues in Europe. On the one hand, they face tougher opponents, but on the other they should receive better coaching and be surrounded by higher quality team-mates.
Lang may also have the luxury of patience. Raphinha and Jack Harrison are Leeds’ first-choice options on the wings, so he’d probably be given time to adapt to his new surroundings and to Bielsa’s demands without coming under immediate pressure to produce the goods.
That gradual bedding-in period may be invaluable to him and, once completed, he could begin to genuinely compete with the current mainstays in the Whites’ starting XI.