Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is eyeing a move for Celtic starlet Leo Hjelde this summer.
The 17-year-old joined fellow Scottish side Ross County on loan, and the club’s boss, John Hughes, has admitted that he could have linked up with Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League instead.
He said: “Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk – trust me on that. The quality he has shown, the physical challenge, playing real men’s football and standing up to it – it’s been a wonderful experience for Leo.
“Before he came, Leeds United were after him. I think he had to sign an extension to his contract for the loan to go through.”
Recently, The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth revealed that the club are “monitoring” the centre-back and that Hjelde is “is one of several youngsters on the domestic scene and abroad who are on Leeds’ radar, with three or four signings anticipated.
“Leeds are keen to add a centre-half to the Under 23 side this summer, with Oliver Casey likely to depart the club for a permanent move to Blackpool.”
And now, Football Insider claim that Leeds have opened talks with Celtic over signing the defender, and that “a Leeds source has told Football Insider the club are now negotiating a deal for Hjelde as they step up plans to recruit top-quality youngsters.”
While he may only be 17, Hjelde is clearly someone with a lot of potential, and Hughes has placed a lot of faith in him by using him in multiple positions, including at left-back and further forward in left-midfield.
And, after seeing him score his first professional goal against Kilmarnock earlier last season, the manager was quick to shower him with praise.
He said: “He found himself out of the team a little bit, then came on there and got his goal. He’s destined for big, big, big things. He won’t be far away from the Celtic first-team when he goes back, but this is what he needs to be doing.”
Given that Bielsa has wanted him before, news that the club are continuing to follow his progress and that he is again on their radar ahead of a potential summer move, will be music to the ears of the Leeds boss, especially if they can pull it off.
Buying players for the here and now is all well and good, but signings like this are the ones that can set up the club’s future, and Hjelde could certainly be that. It’s exactly why Bielsa will be buzzing at the latest transfer update on the 6 foot 2 powerhouse.