Leeds United are set to further bolster their development squad with the loan signing of Benfica forward Oliver Sarkic. The 20-year-old will move to Elland Road for the remainder of the year and becomes the eighth player added to their Under-23 ranks since the arrival of owner Andrea Radzizzani and new manager Thomas Christiansen.
Sarkic, who has previously undergone a trial with Premier League side Swansea City, has come through the ranks at Benfica playing for the B and Under-19 sides in seasons gone by. Last term he was loaned out to LigaPro side Fafe, where he scored two goals in 18 appearances. He is set to add to that experience with a move back to England, where he was born.
His career with Benfica has been littered with appearances for their various youth sides but he arrives in West Yorkshire with a modest goal record of 10 in 67 outings. Despite being of English heritage and spending much of his career in Portugal he looks destined to represent Montengro at international level, having made his debut for their Under-21 side at the start of September.
Championship promotion contenders Leeds acquired permission before the end of the summer transfer window to bring Sarkic to the club, despite the market having closed until January. There is no indication yet that he could represent the first team and will remain with the academy to enhance his development.
As well as adding 23 players to the first team the arrival of Sarkic will further swell their development squad, which has been bolstered by signings from Barcelona and Real Madrid this summer. Academy manager Adam Underwood is confident that the club can continue to attract the best young players from across Europe.
"This has been a really productive summer for the club at every level and we are now in a position to attract players from across the world as well as having a keen focus on the UK and particularly Yorkshire," he told the Leeds official website. "We are excited to try and progress players to the first team and we hope to continue our tradition of producing young footballers for our first team."
Meanwhile, despite the window having closed, Leeds director of football Victor Orta is promising another signing from Asia after admitting the club are close to signing a "big surprise" from the continent. Orta admits the club are tracking talent from across the globe and wants to exploit what is a relatively untapped source.
"Obviously we are watching players around the world – Australia have really good talent so why not? It's true we make a prioritisation – France, Italy Spain and the UK market, which for me is the priority," he told supporters during a Facebook Q&A. "But we have a special group of scouts that watch the countries with lower leagues perhaps like Pawel Cibicki of Malmo in the Sweden league. And we are near to signing a big surprise from Asia.
"We are watching a lot of players in places like Australia and these are the secondary leagues where you can find a good talent. We make a good balance of the two with the UK market our priority with our knowledge and capacity to watch players."