Leeds United have been handed a blow in their chase to sign Huddersfield Town midfielder Lewis O’Brien.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were unable sign the 22-year-old in the summer, with The Athletic’s Phil Hay reporting that the Whites simply did not want to pay the money that the Terriers were demanding – reported to be a fee in the region of around £8m.
And now, according to The Yorkshire Live, O’Brien is in talks with the Terriers over extending his contract at the club, amid speculation over that move to Elland Road in the summer.
The report added: “O’Brien signed his current deal in summer 2019 just before his emergence into the first team, and that deal is set to expire next summer – albeit the club hold the option to extend it by another year.
“Both parties would now like to ensure O’Brien’s deal is reflective of his value to Carlos Corberan’s side, which in turn would help protect his valuation in the transfer market should Leeds or any other club return with a renewed bid in future.”
While Leeds managed to bring in a new first-team left-back in Junior Firpo, and a winger to challenge the likes of Jack Harrison and Raphinha in Dan James, one area of real concern on which they failed to deliver was a new central midfielder.
The decision to not match Huddersfield’s demands for O’Brien shines an even bigger light on the limited options Bielsa currently has, and the Leeds manager will be hoping and praying that the likes of Kalvin Phillips can stay injury-free.
This latest news that O’Brien is in talks over a new contract, in order to protect his value, is likely to ensure that the Terriers can demand a similar sort of fee that they were looking for in the summer, or even something much higher should they give him a much longer-term deal.
Bielsa has already shown that he is someone who will only sign players who fit his principles, and is quite willing to simply avoid players who he doesn’t fancy – Hay even recently suggested that while Victor Orta recommended Noa Lang, Bielsa wanted James, while the Leeds boss has also been understood to have turned down moves for the likes of Glenn Murray and Billy Sharp back in the Championship even when they needed a striker.
The fact that they were very interested in O’Brien means Bielsa is very keen on him, and thinks he would be a good fit at Elland Road. But, given the Whites opted against paying the fee needed to sign him in the summer, this latest update of a new contract is just another body blow and even bigger setback to their chances of signing him.
Bielsa will be fuming if O’Brien doesn’t end up at Leeds now.