LEEDS United’s Sam Byram looks on the way to Premier League Everton for £3.7m.
Byram is on the verge of quitting Elland Road following Everton’s decision to move in with a seven-figure bid for the Elland Road club’s former player of the year.
The Premier League side sent European scout Ian Atkins to watch Byram during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Ipswich Town and have tempted United to cash in on him. Depending on appearances, the deal with the Toffess for the 22-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of this season, could eventually be worth up to £5m.
Byram’s exit was widely expected this month after Leeds failed with attempts to extend his contract.
He could provide a short-term fix as manager Roberto Martinez is short of cover at right-back.
Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman is sidelined for another three weeks with a calf strain sustained in last week’s Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Manchester City, while Tyias Browning has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury and veteran Tony Hibbert’s fitness issues mean he has not played a match in 13 months.
Barnsley product John Stones, who has established himself as first choice in the centre of defence alongside captain Phil Jagielka, filled the void in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Manchester City but the arrival of Byramwould give Martinez some much-needed back-up.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino angered Byram’s camp last December by proposing a deal which would have cut the 22-year-old’s £12,000-a-week salary.
Byram rejected that offer out of hand and was publicly criticised by Cellino. The Italian accused Byram – the leading appearance-maker in United’s current squad after 143 games – of thinking “Leeds was too small of him”, but contract talks resumed briefly two months ago after head coach Steve Evans asked Cellino to start fresh negotiations.
Byram, however, rejected an offer to retain his existing wage and tie him down to the summer of 2017.
Evans has continued to use him in United’s Championship season, but the club were prepared to sell Byram if their valuation of him was met. The club stood to earn around £2m in compensation if Byram remained at Elland Road until the end of his deal.
West Ham United were also interested in him, but Everton’s bid is likely to prompt a rapid exit provided Byram agrees personal terms and passes a medical.
The youngster, who broke through from United’s academy unheralded in 2012 and won the club’s player-of-the-year award in his first full season, is unlikely to be considered for the visit to Sheffield Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the HIllsborough derby, Evans said: “The season’s a long way away from being over. I don’t have to tell the players that.
“I still maintain that if we win at Sheffield Wednesday and clubs above us drop points, we’re back in a much better position. And I know the type of fixtures a team like Ipswich have still got to face.
“We’ve come off an eight-match unbeaten run and we’ll look to go on another one. At the very least that will make sure that clubs above us have to take care of themselves. I’m not going to aim low.
“It’s like the FA Cup – if you say to me ‘how far do you want to go in the FA Cup?’ the answer is ‘I want to win it.’
“People will hear that and say ‘oh, here we go’ but it’s not my job to give up or to start short-changing people. Our supporters expect us to win games and I expect us to win games.”