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Leeds face battle for James Milner 2.0 in Mason Holgate

Leeds United now face a battle to secure the signature of mooted January transfer target Mason Holgate.

According to The Sun last month, the Yorkshire outfit enquired about a move for the Everton centre-back and is thought to be available for transfer due to the Toffees’ financial strains and the fact that Frank Lampard has an array of options in the role.

Since injury, he has struggled to break back into the starting lineup but now the Whites face competition from Premier League rivals Southampton, as per The Sunday People [page 50, 1st January 2023].

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On Tuesday, the Whites announced the arrival of Max Wober from RB Salzburg but he’s more likely to fill the void at left-back, whereas Holgate is a hugely versatile player that could bolster the middle and provide cover out on the right, as well as in defensive midfield.

Leeds have had plenty of utility players over the years, namely Stuart Dallas, who remains out with a long-term injury. But also James Milner, who came through the academy system at Thorp Arch.

Perhaps in Holgate, current first-team manager Jesse Marsch could find the club’s next Milner.

The 26-year-old, who earns around £72k-per-week at Goodison Park, played an integral role in Everton avoiding relegation last season, having started all of their final seven matches at centre-back. And that run included a clean sheet and a win against Chelsea.

Meanwhile, from his four Premier League appearances this term, Holgate is rated as Lampard’s best-performing centre-back after averaging two tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game, via WhoScored.

Such form then and in the past has seen plenty wax lyrical about the Englishman’s credentials, including a particularly glowing endorsement from The Liverpool ECHO reporter Sam Carroll, which will only bolster any comparisons to a player like Milner.

“Mason Holgate is just Mr Dependable now and I think Mason, probably out of [Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey and himself], has gone under the radar the most,” he said. “He’s a leader in this team. How old is he? 23/24, absolutely superb.”

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That ‘Mr Dependable’ nickname is exactly what the Liverpool veteran has been described as on numerous occasions in the past, so when you tie that in with his versatility, it’s easy to see why Holgate could be a massive asset to Marsch and co.

As such, director of football Victor Orta must now look to win the race to sign the Toffees outcast – who they once reportedly valued at a whopping £40m – before the transfer deadline at the end of the month.

AND in other news, Orta could seal a crucial signing in “clever” £15m machine who is open to Leeds move…