Leeds United said no to Donny van de Beek and Harry Winks in January transfer window

Leeds United failed to sign a senior player in the January transfer window after turning down the chance to loan Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Winks, The Yorkshire Post understands.

The Whites’ only January signing, Mateo Joseph Fernandez, was an 18-year-old striker earmarked initially for the under-23s in line with the policy which brought the likes of Joe Gelhardt and Lewis Bate to Elland Road in recent windows.

With young right-back Cody Drameh joining Cardiff City on loan until the summer, Leeds’s squad is weaker now than in the first half of a campaign where bad luck with injuries badly exposed it, pitching them into a relegation battle after finishing ninth in last season’s Premier League.

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They were at least able to keep winger Crysencio Summerville and saw off interest in a number of star players, including Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.

STAYING PUT: Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville Picture: Bruce Rollinson

A central midfielder was Leeds’s top priority this month.

They were close to signing Michael Cuisance from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2020, only for a deal to fall through late on. They showed an interest in Huddersfield Town’s Lewis O’Brien 12 months later, but the West Yorkshire clubs were a long way apart on valuation.

Adam Forshaw has since recovered from a two-year hip injury but with Phillips out until March and injury problems stretching the squad elsewhere, the Whites have still been made to look light in that area at times.

Red Bull Salzburg’s Brenden Aaronson was their top target last month but the Austrian club are under no pressure to sell with a Champions League knockout tie against Bayern Munich on the horizon, and are thought to have turned down two offers. Leeds may have more success if they return in the summer.

USA midfielder Brenden Aaronson is not coming to Elland Road ... yet. Picture: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Premier League midfielders van de Beek and Winks were offered as alternatives, but perhaps neither met what Kinnear described in January programme notes as Bielsa’s exacting standards. Instead, van de Beek joined Everton yesterday, and could make his home debut against Leeds next week. Bielsa was adamant going into the window he would not sign players unless they were better than he already had, and conscious of the large investment in the squad since returning to the Premier League, he did not want to ask the club to pay more for players than he thought they were worth.

Bielsa’s policy is to work with a squad of 18 senior players supplemented by youngsters, even though nine players sit on the bench in the Premier League this season. The tactic promotes the development of Leeds’s highly-rated young players but it usually takes time to win the coach over.

Bate, Gelhardt, Summerville, Drameh, Charlie Cresswell, Sam Greenwood, Leo Fuhr Hjelde, Liam McCarron and Stuart McKinstry have all made Premier League debuts this season but only Gelhardt, Drameh and Cresswell have started games. Of the 253 minutes the other six have played, 119 were by Summerville, which is why Leeds were keen to keep him despite interest from Holland and Germany.

That time was insufficient for right-back Drameh, who requested a loan to Cardiff City despite Bielsa preferring him to stay.

AS YOU WERE: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa Picture: Nigel French/PA

Leeds hope some or all of Forshaw, Cresswell, Jamie Shackleton and Junior Firpo will be back from injury at Aston Villa next Wednesday. Phillips and captain Liam Cooper are due back in March.