Leeds United have opened talks for Celtic central-defender Leo Hjelde, according to Football Insider.
The Lowdown: Celtic face mini-exodus ahead of 2021/22
As 2021/22 rolls around the corner in Glasgow, the Hoops face the prospect of multiple senior exits as they re-shuffle the pack ahead of next campaign.
However, another talented young star could be the first casualty of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic reign as recent rumours come to light.
Should Celtic sell Hjelde to LUFC this summer?
The Latest: Leeds United open talks with the talented Norwegian
After links earlier in the month, Hjelde’s exit is edging closer as the Yorkshire giants are now ‘negotiating’ a deal as they look to recruit more talent to their youth sides, according to a Leeds United source [Football Insider].
His contract at Parkhead is due to expire in 12-months, whilst the chances of Celtic being able to keep him are diminishing rapidly.
Leeds United are confident of landing Hjelde on a lucrative contract, citing his ‘enormous’ potential and room to develop as a player under Bielsa as cornerstone factors of his pursuit [Football Insider], with the Whites’ scouts apparently ‘blown away’ by his abilities at such a young age.
The Verdict: Losing ‘the next Van Dijk’ would come as a bitter blow for Celtic
Undoubtedly, losing a premium talent such as the Norwegian Under-18 international would not go down well with the Celtic support.
Enjoying a commendable debut introduction to senior football in 2020/21, Hjelde spent the second half of the season on loan at Ross County making 12 appearances; scoring once [Transfermarkt].
Eventually helping the Staggies to Scottish Premiership survival [BBC], then manager John Hughes was so enthralled by his contribution that he labelled the defender ‘the next Virgil van Dijk’ when talking about his potential upward trajectory at the Hoops [Daily Record].
With his best years well ahead of him, Celtic should aim to offer Hjelde a first-team pathway to entice him to extend his stay at Parkhead.
Despite this, advances from a Premier League side like Leeds United may be too tempting for the starlet to turn down, so it may already be too late for Celtic to keep Hjelde in Glasgow.
In other news, Celtic have offered a shock lifeline to a forgotten ace.
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