Leeds United

Leeds United

Championship

Leeds Utd transfers: Southampton tipped to rub salt in wounds with surprise winger swoop

Dan James Leeds United

Dan James has been tipped to swap Leeds for Southampton

Leeds United have been told another one of their prized assets could be sold this summer – with Championship play-off final conquerors Southampton tipped to try and sign him.

Leeds seemed primed to secure an immediate return to the Premier League ahead of the final stretch of the season, only to falter at the crucial period; leaving Leicester City and Ipswich Town to take the two automatic promotion spots.

Daniel Farke’s side looked to have rediscovered their mojo with a 4-0 aggregate win over Norwich City in the Championship play-off semi-finals finals but, once again, got white line fever when it truly mattered.

Despite starting the brighter of the two teams at Wembley on Sunday, Southampton’s Adam Armstrong scored the decisive goal in the 24th minute after Will Smallbone’s through ball unlocked Leeds’ wayward defence.

Some of their top talents, such as Championship player of the year Crysencio Summerville, Wilfred Gnonto, Georginio Rutter and £10.5m summer signing Joel Piroe, had off days at Wembley – now, another season in the Championship beckons.

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Following the match, Farke told BBC Radio Leeds: “As you can imagine, it couldn’t be worse. We are suffering a lot in this moment. When you come so close after 90 points and a great play-off semi-final, it hurts a lot.

“It’s too early to come in with upbeat messages. You have to allow the players to be down but when you look at the bigger picture, there’s no need to dwell on this. It’s more important to take it as extra motivation. The supporters deserve a day to celebrate and we feel that pain today.

“We’re disappointed we could not send our fans back with something to cheer about and we’re not in the promised land. It’ll be difficult to come back stronger because we had 90 points this season.”

Financial deadline looms large for Leeds

After they missed out on a top-flight return, and the £140m that goes with it, the question will turn to which players have to be sold this summer to stay in line with profit and sustainability rules.

In the club’s 2022/23 accounts, the Whites reported a £33.7m loss after player sales and, tellingly, they still owe £190m in transfer instalments on player purchases.

Somewhat fortunately, £73.6m of that is due before the end of June 2024, but that still makes it likely that some of their most valuable stars will have to be sold in the coming weeks and months by the 49ers Enterprises investment group.

The potential sales of Summerville and Gnonto could wipe out much of that £73.6m but if Leeds want to strengthen for next season, they may have to sell more top talent before they can buy any.

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And one such player who could fall into that category is Daniel James. The Wales international scored 13 goals and bagged seven assists in 46 games this season and his pace and elusiveness almost drew Leeds level with Southampton at Wembley, only for his strike to cannon off the crossbar.

Daniel James tipped to attract interest

Shortly after Saints’ victory, former Leeds player Jon Newsome spoke with BBC Sport’s Jonathan Buchan about which players could be sold this summer and James’ name came up.

Newsome said: “Crysencio Summerville, yes, I can see him on his way, Willy Gnonto, yeah, I could see him on his way, Dan James, you know, frustrated, not even playing, been on the bench.”

Buchan interjected: “Someone like Southampton might take a look at him [James],” to which Newsome replied: “Absolutely. You know, Joe Rodon goes back [after his loan finishes]. Ethan Ampadu, who has been great all season.”

James has been a top asset for Leeds this season but due to their financial situation and the fact that he has two years left on his contract, that may mean the Whites listen to offers for the 26-year-old – who has played second fiddle to Gnonto on the right wing in recent times.

It remains to be seen if Southampton will inflict even more misery on Leeds, who became the first second-tier side to chalk up 90 points and not go up automatically since Sunderland in 1997-98, in the not so distant future.