Leeds United Managing Director Angus Kinnear has claimed the Championship side rejected several bids for first-team stars in the summer transfer window due to their desire to remain at Elland Road, as told to BBC Radio Leeds.
The Whites executive previously noted interest in Pablo Hernandez, Kalvin Phillips, Adam Forshaw and Luke Ayling could have seen the Elland Road natives recoup up to £35m (Yorkshire Evening Post) in the recent market, but the priority for Leeds was to retain the core unit of Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Leeds parted company with several first-team players in the summer, with Pontus Jansson, Jack Clarke, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Kemar Roofe securing permanent deals elsewhere before the transfer markets slammed shut across Europe.
Jansson and Roofe’s departures, in particular, deprived Bielsa of two of the more regular names from his maiden campaign at Elland Road, but managed to retain the likes of Phillips and Forshaw, despite interest from elsewhere.
Phillips was heavily linked with a potential move to Aston Villa following their promotion to the Premier League, with reports of the Villans lodging bids in the region of £15m as they refused to meet the Whites’ £30m asking price (The Sun).
Meanwhile, Fulham were often credited with interest in Forshaw, with Leeds alleged to have held talks over a potential transfer in June (Football Insider) as the Cottagers were keen to sign a battle-hardened midfielder following their relegation.
Kinnear, though, has alluded that they rejected bids from top-flight and second-tier sides for first-team players as they displayed a desire to stay at the club.
“One of our objectives at the start of the window was around who we didn’t want to lose,” Kinnear said. “We know that it becomes a product of having a really good season in the Championship and then not going up, is that your players are sought-after by other clubs.
“Obviously, we had Kalvin, that was very publicised, but there were a number of other first-team, first-choice players who we received offers for, from both the Premier League and Championship.
“I think it’s a testament to Andrea’s [Radrizzani] financial commitment, but also the belief that the team have as a unit, and in Marcelo that those players refused those offers and wanted to stay, and that we were able to refuse them and we were able to maintain the integrity of the squad.”
Players rejecting potential moves away following a disheartening end to the season with heartbreak in the play-offs is indeed a testament to the players buying into Bielsa’s methods, and having a belief that the club can secure promotion at the next time of asking.
Leeds were so close to obtaining an automatic place in 2018/19 to only fall away in the latter stages of the campaign, and without the likes of Hernandez and Phillips, would surely struggle to repeat their results this season.
Already after the first six games of the term, Phillips is leading the Whites for tackles completed by some way with 28, while Hernandez and Mateusz Klich continue to be vital on the creative side with 16 and 17 key balls respectively, almost double that of third-place Jack Harrison (9), according to data collected by WhoScored.
Leeds fans, where do you think you would finish had you sold Phillips, Hernandez, Forshaw and Ayling this summer? Let us know in the comments below…
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