Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore must ruthlessly axe centre-back Tom Lees amid interest from Championship side Bristol City.
According to the Bristol Post, Lees is one of the players for whom Nigel Pearson is weighing up a swoop as he attempts to improve his defence heading into the 2021/22 campaign. The report claims that Pearson is looking to bring in two new centre-back options and Lees is a player he would like to sign, along with Oxford defender Rob Atkinson.
Lees is out of contract at the end of the month and is reportedly on £22,000 per week at Hillsborough. This means that he is on course to become a free agent at the start of July, which would allow Bristol City to bring him in without paying a transfer fee to Sheffield Wednesday for his services.
Moore deciding to axe Lees this summer would come as a massive relief for Dejphon Chansiri. The 30-year-old is one of the club’s top earners and his exit could take a sizeable chunk away from the wage bill Chansiri will need to pay in League One next season following the club’s relegation to the third tier.
Sheffield Wednesday have felt the impact of the global pandemic financially and are reportedly struggling to pay the wages of their players at the moment. The club are looking into the possibility of placing some of their playing staff on furlough over the summer to cut costs and cover payments.
This means that letting Lees go could be a necessity this month. If Chansiri is not able to pay the players their wages for the month just gone, there is no way of being able to justify keeping the defender at Hillsborough for another season or longer, unless he was willing to take a gigantic pay cut to play for the club in League One.
That appears to be an unlikely outcome because of the interest from Bristol City in his services. Pearson is offering him the chance to move back to the Championship, potentially without a pay cut, and that could be an attractive prospect for the former Leeds player.
It is worth pointing out that this is not an indictment on Lees’ performances for the club in the season just gone. He averaged the highest WhoScored rating in the Championship for Sheffield Wednesday, earning a score of 6.88 for his performances across 38 starts, just ahead of Barry Bannan. He averaged five aerial battles won and 5.4 clearances made per game, showing that he was a beast for Wednesday at the back despite their failure to stay up.
However, time is up for Lees at Hillsborough, and Moore must allow him to go because of their wage bill situation.
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