Leeds United sitting on £30m-worth of bids for Elland Road stars and Sheffield Wednesday eye double signing

Lewis Cook.
Lewis Cook.
2
Have your say

Head coach Steve Evans claims the Elland Road club has had £30m-worth of bids for their players as speculation intensifies over the futures of star players Sam Byram and Lewis Cook.

Evans’ extraordinary comment - made at the end of Saturday’s FA Cup win over Rotherham United - came with fresh insistence that Leeds were not inclined to accept any of the offers, despite the sums of money involved.

Steve Evans.

Steve Evans.

The United boss refused to identified the players being targeted but academy products Cook and Byram have both attracted firm interest in the days either side of the transfer window opening.

Byram, whose contract ends in the summer, is on the radar of several Premier League clubs including West Ham United and Everton.

Cook, 18, has been the subject of repeated enquiries by Bournemouth, though the south-coast club are not believed to have matched his valuation.

Leeds are ready to sell Byram after failing to agree an extension to his contract but both Evans and club owner Massimo Cellino were categoric last week in insisting that Cook would not be leaving Elland Road before the January window closes.

“I was with the president (on Friday night), we sat down for a coffee and we’re not selling anyone as we sit here. I’ve always been a believer that everyone has a price. Cristiano Ronaldo has a price. Gareth Bale has a price. But the president says we’re not going to be doing it unless someone reaches a figure he thinks is in the interests of the club.”

Leeds United manager Steve Evans

Both players featured in Saturday’s third-round tie against Rotherham, Cook as a substitute, and Bournemouth’s attention was elsewhere over the weekend as the club worked to finalise a fee for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ striker Benik Afobe, reported to be worth around £10m.

The past seven days have also seen Italian Serie A club Verona linked with a multi-million pound move for centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci and indications that striker Mirco Antenucci is looking for a return to Italy.

Evans said: “I think it’s in excess of £30m, the offers on the table for different players. If it was that for one player then I’d probably get the order to drive him there but it isn’t.

“I was with the president (on Friday night), we sat down for a coffee and we’re not selling anyone as we sit here.

Peter Crouch.

Peter Crouch.

“I’ve always been a believer that everyone has a price. Cristiano Ronaldo has a price. Gareth Bale has a price. But the president says we’re not going to be doing it unless someone reaches a figure he thinks is in the interests of the club. I don’t ask people to defend him but a lot of owners would have been selling these players for that money.

“If you totalled it up and there was a fire sale at Elland Road tomorrow, that (£30m) is the type of money you’d be talking.”

Elland Road is yet to see any high-profiles departures this month but Evans concluded two incoming deals last week, extending Liam Bridcutt’s loan from Sunderland and signing Mustapha Carayol on a temporary basis from Middlesbrough.

Carayol marked his debut on Saturday with a sensational opening goal against Rotherham.

Jack Hunt

Jack Hunt

Evans is in the market for a new centre-back and at least one striker but his plans to sign Kyle Lafferty from Norwich City look increasingly unlikely due to a refusal by Norwich to consider loaning the Northern Ireland international out.

City’s manager, Alex Neil, confirmed on Saturday that Norwich would only listen to offers to take Lafferty, 28, on a permanent basis. Leeds are unwilling to discuss a full-time deal and Evans indicated that he was not prepared to wait for the situation to change.

“This club doesn’t wait on Alex Neil,” Evans said. “Alex is the manager of Norwich, a man I’ve got a great relationship with, and he’s made the Norwich viewpoint clear. I’ve made clear the Leeds United viewpoint.

“Unless that changes we will pursue others. We’re in talks about two other strikers and if we got those particular strikers there would be no room for Kyle Lafferty.”

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill wants Lafferty to get more first-team action before next summer’s European Championship in France.

“It has been a very difficult time for him because his time at Norwich, I do not think he has had much opportunity,” O’Neill told Goals on Sunday. “His situation is not ideal for him and club managers have a difficult job, they have to pick their squad however they feel. So certainly in his case I do not think he has had very much opportunity, the minutes have been very, very limited.

“I just hope, whether it is at Norwich, that between now and the finals he gets the opportunity to show what a good player he is, because for us he is being phenomenal.”

Leeds United target Peter Crouch admits he may be forced to leave Stoke due to a lack of first-team opportunities.

He told the club’s official website: “Ideally I’d like to stay at Stoke because I think we’re a top 10 side and I’d like to be a part of that.

“But I’ve got to be realistic - I’ve featured hardly at all in the Premier League and that’s what I want to be doing. If needs be I’ll have to move on but I’d rather not.

“It’s been frustrating at times when you don’t feel part of the group but all you can do is work hard and get back in there - and hopefully I’ve done myself a bit of justice.”

Sheffield Wednesday are understood to be closing in on the permanent signing of loanee Jack Hunt.

The 25-year-old right-back joined the Owls on a season-long loan in July and has made 21 appearances so far, although he was an unused substitute for the FA Cup win over Fulham on Saturday.

Bolton’s Mark Davies is another thought to be on the verge of joining Wednesday.

The midfielder was left out of the Wanderers squad for their FA Cup tie at Eastleigh on Saturday and is understood to be close to a move to Hillsborough.

Winger Yanic Wildschut has left Middlesbrough to sign a permanent deal with Wigan after his loan spell there came to an end at the start of January.

Crawley have signed Barnsley left-back George Smith on loan. The 19-year-old has joined the Sky Bet League 2 club for 28 days and will be in the squad for Saturday’s home clash with Cambridge.