TOUMANI DIAGOURAGA could be surrounded by a lot of familiar faces when he makes his Leeds United debut as expected on Tuesday night.
Leeds are expected to confirm the arrival of Diagouraga from Brentford on Monday and add him to their squad for Tuesday’s night’s clash against his former club.
The midfielder agreed a two-and-a-half year contract with Leeds on Friday after Brentford accepted an offer of close to £600,000 for their reigning player-of-the-year.
Diagouraga’s move was subject to a medical but he was put through tests at Elland Road prior to United’s clash with Bristol City on Saturday and is understood to have completed them successfully.
The 28-year-old sat through the game against Bristol City and saw a second-half goal from Souleymane Doukara earn Leeds a 1-0 win.
Evans, whose players will travel to London tomorrow afternoon, claimed Leeds were signing a “top player” and said Diagouraga and Liam Bridcutt had been two of his prime targets when he first took charge as United head coach in October. “On Thursday, when I was around Elland Road with the president (Massimo Cellino), I didn’t think we were going to get him,” Evans said. “He had the choice of Glasgow Rangers and one good club in the Championship.
“Our initial move was refused. The president said ‘is it important?’ and I said ‘yes’. I left and then met him again one hour later. He said ‘we’ve come to an agreement with Brentford, the player will be waiting to travel up for a chat.’ I didn’t sell to Leeds United him. All he has to do is open his eyes. But he was really keen and we’re signing a top player.
“When I first came in I wrote two names on a piece of paper – ‘Toums’ and Bridcutt. Those were the two for that area of the pitch.”
The deal to sign Diagouraga came at the end of a week in which Leeds sold defender and academy product Sam Byram to West Ham United.
Byram’s exit continued a trend of high-profile departures from Elland Road, stretching back many years, but Evans said Leeds had received no fresh approaches for any of their other youngsters, despite Bournemouth pushing to sign Lewis Cook and Crystal Palace and Stoke City monitoring Charlie Taylor. The 53-year-old insisted that Leeds would only be drawn into considering “outrageous” offers and said owner Cellino deserved credit for stabilising a club who posted a loss of more than £20m in their last annual accounts.
Evans said: “We want to build with the young players.
“I put a caveat on that that everyone has a price but if it ever got mad, if they ever moved away, I’m sure the president would tell the fans the level of money involved because the level of money would need to be outrageous. I can’t steal the president’s thunder but when the financial figures come out here shortly, what he’s done to this club is nothing short of remarkable.”