Lewis O’Brien is not a priority central midfield target for Leeds United this summer.
That’s according to Phil Hay, Leeds correspondent for The Athletic.
Leeds ‘came close‘ to agreeing a deal for Huddersfield Town midfielder O’Brien last year, when Marcelo Bielsa was manager.
He wound up staying with The Terriers, who lost the Championship playoff final 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.
O’Brien started all 46 of their matches over the course of he campaign, almost exclusively operating as a number eight (via WhoScored).
Under contract at The John Smith’s Stadium until the summer of 2025, he’s valued at £3.15million by Transfermarkt.
Hay tells fans that Leeds ‘do want a central midfielder’ but ‘from what we’re hearing’, they’re focusing their attention on ‘other targets’.
They are admirers of O’Brien, but in reality, the ‘window of opportunity’ to sign him was ‘probably last summer’.
In terms of alternatives, Hay reiterates that Manchester United’s James Garner is ‘someone Leeds have thought about’ after he helped Forest secure promotion, but they may instead opt for a player with more ‘experience’ and ‘pedigree’.
How do O’Brien and Garner compare?
Well, they would both be characterised as predominant no. 8s, even if Garner did play four games each as a defensive and attacking midfielder in 2021/22.
Both players make significant defensive contributions, but there are some differences beyond that. O’Brien, for instance, is more inclined to run with the ball averaging more dribbles than any Leeds player, while Garner creates more chances (2.0 key passes per game compared to 1.2).
Huddersfield’s defeat at Wembley actually seemed like it could pave the way for Leeds to snap up O’Brien, who may not be keen on another season of second-tier football.
Indeed, journalist Mark Douglas has called him a ‘terrific footballer‘ who’s ‘destined for the Premier League’.
New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is keen to run the rule over Garner in pre-season, and if he opts to keep him around, then perhaps Leeds will be forced to revisit O’Brien.
In other news, another Leeds transfer target has emerged.
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