ASSISTANT manager Mick Jones has admitted Leeds United’s biggest fight during the January transfer window will be to hang on to in-demand pair Luciano Becchio and Sam Byram.
A host of Premier League scouts have been at Elland Road in recent weeks with Everton and Liverpool both rating Byram very highly.
Becchio, meanwhile, is on the radar of Wigan Athletic and Championship outfit Bolton Wanderers after netting 19 goals this term.
The striker saved Leeds from exiting the FA Cup third round on Saturday by netting an equaliser in a 1-1 draw with visiting Birmingham City – the winners of the replay a week on Tuesday will host Premier League Tottenham Hotspur in round four.
Jones, who along with Ronnie Jepson took control of Saturday’s draw in the absence of unwell manager Neil Warnock, said: “I am more worried about players leaving the club than players coming in.
“With the quality players we have got, including Sam, a lot of pressure is being put on us to take these players away.
“Luciano, at the moment, is hot property. Common-sense tells you that. I would be worried if certain clubs came in for him, in this country and out of this country.
“If they come in, it is going to create a big problem for Leeds so we hope we can get Luciano sorted out and Sam sorted out.
“I don’t think Sam will go, personally, because he’s better off with us at the moment. But I think there will be some pressure on us to sell him. Let’s just say that Manchester United come in for Sam Byram and offer £10m. He is going to go. You can’t stop him from joining Manchester United and you can’t turn down £10m. That’s a fact and you have got to live with the facts.”
Asked if there had been bids for both Becchio and Byram this month, Jones replied: “I would say so. Let’s put it this way, if I was a Premier League manager I would be doing the same thing.”
He added: “If you have got good players, everyone else wants them. But we have got to keep them, no doubt in my mind. And I think we will.”
Byram, who has emerged as one of the Championship’s most promising talents this season, signed a new three-year contract in the summer. Becchio, meanwhile, has a little under 18 months remaining on his own deal.
Jones added: “The fans love Luciano and if I was him, I would stay because of that.”
With Leeds having last month been taken over by GFH Capital, supporters are eagerly awaiting news of incoming transfers with Forest pair Dexter Blackstock and Lewis McGugan both having been linked with a possible move.
Jones added: “There are a lot of enquiries and phone calls going on. The only problem is that when Leeds United come on the phone, finances double or treble.
“Despite his illness, Neil has not stopped. He has been on to me all the time about ringing this agent and ringing this club He has been non-stop and that will continue. We have got more than 20 days left in the window.
“I think we need to add in three or four positions to make us better. We need a stronger squad and a better squad.”