Leeds United will try and plug the gap left by Kalvin Phillips’s departure with an ambitious permanent move for Manchester City starlet James McAtee, claims a report.
Phillips is set to complete a transfer to the champions that will see them pay £42m up front. A series of add-ons are also expected, while Leeds are hoping their good relations with City officials will lead to a deal for 19-year-old McAtee.
McAtee has been the subject of several loan enquires over the course of the last six months. But the Daily Express, as cited by Sportsmole claim that Leeds will look to sign the teenager on a permanent basis this summer.
The attacking midfielder was a standout performer for City’s Under-23s. He helped them win the Premier League 2 title last season, recording 18 goals and seven assists in 23 league appearances.
He was also afforded six appearances in the first team under Pep Guardiola last season. Still, his first-team chances could be hard to come by next season such is the strength in depth at The Etihad.
A number of teams, including Rangers, tried to land the player on loan in January. Southampton, Brighton, Aston Villa and Leicester were also in the hunt.
But at the end of the January window England youth star McAtee signed a new contract at City. He only had 18 months left on his deal, but he penned an extension to tie him down until 2026.
That would indicate that Guardiola thinks highly of the Salford-born midfielder and a permanent deal looks a long shot.
McAtee loan deal more likely
Leeds are ‘very keen’ on a move for the Etihad youngster, according to The Atheltic. Although a loan maybe the best they can hope for.
The Whites are also in negotiations over a move to sign City teenager Darko Gyabi for £5m. The deals are not understood to be linked. Although Leeds’ willingness to do business over Phillips may well stand them in good stead.
McAtee, who has contributed 46 goals in 52 U23 games for City, is far from a like-for-like replacement for Phillips. But he does offer a considerable goal threat from central midfield and he is well thought of at City.
Speaking on the Dr Football podcast, City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano namechecked McAtee.
He said: “The current squad is very good. Not only with top players, experienced players that we have, but others that are coming through like [Cole] Palmer or [James] McAtee – these are very young, English players with a bright future.”
That would suggest that a loan deal is the best that Leeds could hope for this summer.