Leeds United: Byram form was affected by transfer speculation admits boss Rosler

Sam Byram.
Sam Byram.
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Uwe Rosler admitted today that the closure of the transfer window had lifted a weight from the shoulders of Sam Byram by ending speculation about the 21-year-old’s future.

Leeds United’s head coach conceded that Byram’s form in the first month of the season had been negatively affected by doubt about whether he might leave Elland Road before FIFA’s summer window ended last week.

United’s talented academy product was the subject of interest from Premier League clubs during the close season, much of it encouraged by his dwindling contract at Leeds.

Byram’s existing deal expires next summer and attempts to extend his contract have repeatedly failed to force an agreement.

Leeds made an offer to Byram before Christmas - asking the youngster to take a reduced weekly wage in return for a lengthy deal - but saw that proposal rejected out of hand.

The club returned to his agent for fresh talks last month but appear to have accepted that Byram is likely to move on at the end of this season. Despite being out of contract, Leeds would still be entitled to compensation for him on account of his age.

Aston Villa and Everton looked at Byram at an early stage of the transfer window and Newcastle sent their assistant manager Ian Cathro and head scout Graham Carr to watch him on the last weekend of pre-season. A firm offer failed to materialise before FIFA’s deadline, however.

Rosler had repeatedly criticised speculation about Byram, accusing transfer rumours of unsettling his right winger, but Byram - the leading appearance-maker in United’s squad - started all five of the club’s matches last month after shining in pre-season.

His most recent performance failed to impress but Rosler, who plans to name him in his starting line-up at home to Brentford tomorrow, said the pressure on Byram had eased significantly during the international break.

“I talked about Sam before and I felt that with Sam, the rumours and continuous speculation didn’t help him,” Rosler said.

“You can already see in the last two weeks that there’s an easiness around him now. He knows he’ll be with us for the next year at least; hopefully for longer but at least for the next year, Leeds United will be his home.

“He knows the team welcome him to stay here and I very much welcome him to stay. But he also knows about his responsibility to keep improving.

“To be honest, the transfer window has affected him like it affects many other players who’ve been in similar situations at other clubs. We aren’t the only club who’ve faced that problem.

“Sam’s a good guy and he always dealt with it in a professional manner. He tried his best in the way he committed himself and the way he played.

“Over the time we had good dialogue. I spoke to him probably more than any other player one-to-one and we’re both happy that it (the transfer window) is done now. We can only speak about football.”

Rosler has used Byram - a right-back throughout his first three years as a senior Leeds player - as a winger this season but United recruited competition last week by signing Jordan Botaka on a two-year deal from Excelsior in Holland.

Botaka is expected to feature in the squad to face Brentford tomorrow but Rosler, whose side earned their first win of the Championship term away at Derby County before the international break, said: “The selection is pretty easy. Brentford ask similar questions like Derby. Ideally I wouldn’t like any changes.”