LEEDS UNITED are lining up a move for Jamaican international midfielder Rodolph Austin – but manager Neil Warnock has warned fans not to expect a multi-million pound transfer spree even if the club’s proposed takeover is completed.
Warnock has confirmed his interest in bringing SK Brann player Austin, 27 – voted as the best player in the Norwegian premier division in 2011 – to Elland Road, having previously had him on trial at former club QPR in January of last year.
The combative defensive midfielder, capped 45 times by the Reggae Boyz, will be out of contract in December and has refused to sign a new deal, with Brann’s asking price believed to be between £200,000 and £300,000.
Austin saw a move to Stoke City in 2008 fall through due to work permit issues.
Warnock said: “He’s a player I had at QPR. I had him over for a week and he’s a smashing lad. I’ve always liked him, but it’s always been a bit too much money.
“The last time I spoke to them, it was around the £2m mark. But his contract runs out in December and he’s one that we are looking at as well as several others.”
Meanwhile, Warnock has played down talk that he could be handed an open cheque book by United’s prospective new owners once a deal goes through.
A Gulf-based consortium, thought to be headed by lifelong Leeds fan Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, are being strongly linked with a takeover of the club.
Such Middle-Eastern connections have led many to speculate that Warnock will be provided with a vast transfer war chest to bankroll United back to the top flight.
Earlier this week, the Al-Hasawi family – reportedly one of the richest in Kuwait and previously linked with Leeds – took charge at Nottingham Forest, promising to bring the good times back to the City Ground.
But Warnock has called on fans to be realistic and not expect millions to be handed to him to make a seismic impact in the transfer market.
He said: “Whoever comes in will not throw money at it like at Man City. They will come in and look it and while I think they will support the manager, I don’t think there will be any stupid money thrown away.
“That’s never been my policy anyhow. You just want the freedom to spend realistically to try and be successful in this division.
“I think anybody coming into Leeds will want to support the manager and whoever comes in, I’m sure they will. Likewise, I think it’s got to be right for the chairman as well and I’m hopeful everything will be sorted. Obviously, the sooner the better for me.
“It has been frustrating in one respect, but I understand there are only 24 hours in a day. It’s been difficult for (chief executive) Shaun Harvey, in particular, because he’s had to deal with a lot of issues.
“But the due diligence is still going on and the chairman is positive and so is Shaun.”
It has been a challenging close-season for Warnock, who has admitted that he nearly walked away from Elland Road earlier this summer, only to be swayed into staying by the club’s fans.
His frustrations boiled over after a £400,000 move to sign Joel Ward collapsed due to a lack of funds.
But the tremendous backing from the club’s supporters, despite a dire end to the 2011-12 campaign, and some words of support from eldest son James convinced him to stay put and see out the job.
Warnock, seeking a record eighth promotion of his career at United said: “I was disappointed to lose Ward to Palace earlier on in the summer; in fact at that stage I’m not sure I was going to be here.
“There were temptations and I think it might have been easier to take an offer elsewhere than stay here.
“My son James lives here and he’s the one that over this summer – when it would have been easier to leave – has pleaded with me to give it a go, because he knows how desperate I am to get another promotion.”
Despite the poor end-of-season run, Warnock has struck up a rapport with the supporters and wants to give the fans success.
He added: “I’ll never forget the fans’ support last season. I’ll never forget the Forest game at home; in the last 10 minutes of that game I was talking to Ronnie Jepson and saying, ‘Let’s put something on this pitch next season for this lot to get excited about’. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Warnock is also running the rule over former Leeds and Sheffield United striker Andy Gray, 34, in the pre-season weeks and may offer the free agent a deal if he impresses.
Gray, released by Barnsley at the end of last season, had been in talks with Bradford.