The Athletic’s Phil Hay has dropped an update on Leeds United’s transfer pursuit of Huddersfield Town midfielder Lewis O’Brien.
Journalist Alan Nixon had previously revealed via Twitter that O’Brien was “very near” to the top of the shortlist for Marcelo Bielsa’s side this summer as they look to strengthen their midfield options ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
And now, Hay has revealed where things currently stand right now with regards to a move for the 22-year-old.
He said: “A left-back was essential in this window but having addressed that with Junior Firpo, they could do with an extra midfielder materialising — not least to try to answer the question, posed again in the heavy loss at Old Trafford on Saturday, of how this side manage on the days when Kalvin Phillips is out.
“If Leeds manage to agree a price with Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield Town for Lewis O’Brien, then it’s going to be him. O’Brien has been the choice since Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher rejected Leeds and went to Crystal Palace on loan instead. But here and now, there’s no deal in place.”
In O’Brien, Leeds could find someone who is the ideal cover for midfield talisman Kalvin Phillips, with Huddersfield Town writer Steven Chicken raving about the 22-year-old’s industry and work ethic in the engine room.
He said: “O’Brien is a left-footed, tough-tackling central midfielder. Former Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley often praised O’Brien as being ‘like having two players’, with the midfielder receiving particular praise from his manager and fans alike for his ability and willingness to rush back and win the ball with a clean sliding tackle whenever his side were caught on the counter-attack.
“He certainly has the potential to be (a Premier League player), if he’s not already.”
As per WhoScored, O’Brien averaged two tackles and one interception per game in the Championship last season, which is only slightly less than the 2.6 tackles and 1.6 interceptions that Phillips managed in the top-flight.
The fact Hay has now confirmed that O’Brien appears to be the number one target for Bielsa’s side, and that if they can agree a fee with Huddersfield, he will be the man to arrive, should have fans buzzing.
Whites supporters saw exactly the kind of impact not having Phillips in the team can have, not least because Bielsa feels he needs to play a centre-back in Robin Koch in that holding role – something that back-fired spectacularly at Elland Road.
Hay’s latest update is sure to have fans delighted and relieved in equal measure.