Leeds United

Leeds United

Championship

Leeds battle Southampton, Ipswich to sign sought-after West Ham star in bargain deal

West Ham star to make key decision on his future amid Leeds Utd links

Ben Johnson to make West Ham decision amid Leeds link

Leeds United face competition to sign West Ham’s Ben Johnson as Championship rivals Southampton and Ipswich Town are reportedly keeping tabs on the out of favour defender.

The 24-year-old was heavily linked with Leeds during the January transfer window after Djed Spence had his season-long loan spell from Tottenham cancelled by the Elland Road outfit.

Try as they might, the Hammers were not willing to let the full-back leave London Stadium at the start of the year, in full knowledge that they risk losing the former England Under-21 international on a free this summer when his contract expires.

Instead, Leeds recruited Burnley right-back Connor Roberts on loan until the end of the season, with the Wales international trying to help Daniel Farke’s side in their bid to secure an immediate promotion back to the Premier League.

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However, according to the Sunday Mirror, Leeds have maintained an interest in Johnson, who has played 22 games for West Ham this season – although just seven of those have been starts.

Leeds maintain interest in West Ham defender

Now, the Hammers academy product, who has featured 109 times for the Irons since making his debut in the 2018/19 season, is said to be attracting interest from promotion rivals Southampton and Ipswich – who sit fourth in second in the Championship respectively with three games remaining.

Elsewhere, the Yorkshire Evening Post states Johnson is attracting interest from Premier League sides Tottenham and Wolves.

The report adds that West Ham boss David Moyes wants to keep Johnson at London Stadium but the ex-Manchester United manager, who won them the Europa Conference League last season, could part ways with the Hammers this summer as fans grow increasingly disgruntled with his perceived negative style of play.

A troublesome position for Leeds

Although Leeds have plenty of right-back options, they haven’t got too many out-and-out full-back specialists. Teenage midfielder Archie Gray has been utilised in that role for the majority of the season, with loanee Roberts starting just two of his 11 appearances so far.

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Utility player Jamie Shackleton, who says his best position is in midfield, was used earlier this season in that role but injuries, illness, and falling down the pecking order have limited his game time.

Right-back Rasmus Kristensen, who underwhelmed following his £10m move from Red Bull Salzburg last summer, is on a season-long loan at Roma, Cody Drameh is on loan at Birmingham City and is set to depart at the end of the season, and Luke Ayling will bring down the curtain on his Leeds career when his loan spell at Middlesbrough expires next month.

In light of that, and the fact that Gray is seen as a midfielder in the long term, Leeds’ interest in Johnson makes sense. Whether they get promoted and edge out Ipswich and Southampton to his signature is anyone’s guess.