head coach Steve Evans wants Sam Byram to stay at Leeds United, but believes a Premier League club is likely to come calling in January with a big-money offer.
The 22-year-old will be out of contract at Elland Road next summer after turning down the club’s offer of an extension.
A host of Premier League clubs have watched Byram, who rescued a point for Leeds yesterday with a late equaliser against Nottingham Forest.
Liverpool were linked with a possible £5m bid in one national newspaper over Christmas and Evans believes at least one top-flight manager could be tempted to take a chance on the Leeds Academy graduate, who will not be able to leave on a free transfer in the summer due to being under 24.
The United head coach said: “I know the kid wants to play at Leeds United so I think there is hope. I have always been an optimist. The Leeds United fans might not know this, but if Sam doesn’t sign a contract then someone in the summer still has to pay £2m for him. It is based on earnings over the last four years and Sam has earned a lot of money in that time. It is also based on appearances and potential.
“Well, he has the appearances and that is a fact, and I can’t imagine there are many people who have seen him in the last couple of games on television and don’t realise what a good player he is. If you are in the Premier league and thinking he is going to cost £5m-£7m in January do you wait until the summer when there will be an auction of three or four clubs looking to get him under the compensation scheme and paying £3m?
“You would go get him. But the kid knows I want him here. I love him to bits. He is a fantastic professional. You give the boys a day off, but he still comes in.
“Look at his celebration (after yesterday’s equaliser), too. Does that mean a lot to him? Of course.”
Byram’s late goal extended United’s unbeaten record in December to five games and nudged Evans’s men into the top half of the table.
The Leeds chief added: “The feeling is one of frustration. It feels like two points dropped.”