Leeds secured their top-flight status in the final match of the 2021/22 season via a 94th-minute winner from Jack Harrison to secure a 2-1 victory against Brentford, and they look set to go down to the wire once more as they look to avoid relegation to the Championship. Leeds sit 17th in the table, level on 30 points with Leicester City and Nottingham Forest, one point above Everton and six above Southampton. Having fallen to a 4-1 defeat to Bournemouth, Leeds will be looking to bounce back at Manchester City before hosting Newcastle, traveling to West Ham and hosting Tottenham.
It looks set to be a brutal run-in for Leeds as they seek to avoid the drop, despite splurging on the likes of Luis Sinisterra and Tyler Adams in the summer transfer window. Leeds also heavily invested in the January window with American midfielder Weston McKennie arriving on loan from Juventus, whilst Maximilian Wöber joined for £11 million from Red Bull Salzburg. However, the January signing who has been featured the least since arriving is, coincidentally, the most expensive: Georginio Rutter.
Born in Plescop, France, Rutter joined Rennes’ academy in 2017 and made his professional debut on September 26, 2020, replacing Eduardo Camavinga. Four months later, he moved to Hoffenheim for €750,000, where he would score 11 goals and 8 assists in 64 appearances for the Bundesliga club before making the move to Leeds. Rutter signed a contract through 2028 for a club-record £36 million, but his performances have not yet corresponded to the outlay.
Rutter would make five substitute appearances in the Premier League in February before getting the start in the FA Cup, leading the line in a 2-0 defeat to Fulham, the second game in charge for Javi Gracia. Rutter would start in the following match, a 0-1 defeat to Chelsea, before coming off the bench in four of the next six fixtures. His last appearance came on April 17, replacing Brenden Aaronson in the 66th minute of a 6-1 defeat to Liverpool.
The 21-year-old has been an unused substitute in Leeds’ last three matches and has failed to provide a single goal or assist since moving to Elland Road. Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo look to be firmly ahead of him in the pecking order, and so far, it seems that Rutter has been another ‘project’ signing by Angus Kinner and Victor Orta that was simply unprepared to meet the physical requirements in the Premier League. It doesn’t help that Daniel James and Joe Gelhardt have gone on to play and score regularly since departing Leeds and joining Fulham and Sunderland on loan, respectively.
“In the time I’ve been here he’s started some games and played some minutes in others,” stated Gracia. “It’s true he’s not had the continuity of game time but when we have more chances he will show his quality. I have to choose what I think is the best for the team. Like all new players, Georgi needs time. He’s a good character and I’m sure his future will be brilliant.”
With a long-term contract and a club-record transfer fee to justify, it doesn’t seem that Rutter will be leaving Leeds anytime soon. However, with Leeds desperate to avoid the drop and likely to trust more experienced options such as Bamford and Rodrigo, it seems that Rutter may have to bide his time on the bench over the next few months as he looks to crack into the team.
By: Joseph Baker / @Joebakerwinch
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Hugo Pfeiffer / Icon Sport