Leeds United

Leeds United

Championship

Leeds ‘ready to sell’ unwanted pair in January as third star ‘switches agents’ to force through £20m transfer

Daniel Farke is ready to listen to offers for Leo Hjelde and Lewis Bate in January

Leo Hjelde, Daniel Farke and Lewis Bate of Leeds United

Leeds United are open to the sales of squad stars Lewis Bate and Leo Hjelde in the January window – and a third player reportedly still hopes to force through his big-money exit after coming close to leaving in the summer.

The Whites have made a solid start to life back in the second tier following relegation last season and currently sit third in the Championship. However, Daniel Farke’s side host second-placed Ipswich at Elland Road on Saturday lunchtime in a game Leeds United cannot afford to lose and ideally need to win.

And with the Tractor Boys enjoying a 10-point lead over Leeds going into the match, a win for either side will be crucial in the race for automatic promotion. If Leeds win, they will claim a sizeable scalp and close the gap to the top two to seven points; lose and that is extended to a daunting 13 points – already a big ask as we approach the halfway point in the season.

With the January window fast approaching, Leeds have the option to fine-tune Farke’s squad ahead of the run-in. And while Leeds do have a couple of loan spots available in their side, it is unlikely they will tinker too much with their promotion-chasing squad.

Indeed, the Whites are as much likely to focus on moving on a couple of their fringe stars in the winter window and now The Athletic’s Phil Hay has revealed both Hjelde and Bate are among those the club are listening to offers for.

Bate joined Leeds in a £1.5m move from Chelsea in summer 2021, signing a three-year deal. After showing early promise, Bate forced his way into the side under Jesse Marsch, making two appearances in the Premier League.

READ MORELeeds see approach for Turkey attacker wrecked by Man Utd – but Farke is given hope over €15m summer signing

Leeds open to exits of Bate and Hjelde

The player, spent last season on loan at League One, Oxford, where he made 35 appearances, scoring once.

But having returned to Elland Road this season, the 21-year-old midfielder has only played once, featuring for just a single minute of a Carabao Cup clash against Shrewsbury in August.

Having not made the squad since, Leeds are now ‘very open’ to offers for the player in January. And with his deal due to expire in just six months time, the Whites will likely accept a nominal fee for his services.

It’s a similar story with Hjelde, who actually started the season in Farke’s side at left-back. And while he did reasonably well in matches against Cardiff and the Shrews, he was hooked at half-time in both, only making an appearance in another Carabao Cup match – against Salford – since then.

Now Farke is prepared to move the former Celtic man on, with Sam Byram very much established as this season’s left-back and with the club also having Junior Firpo back training again as cover.

The Norway U21 international is contracted to Leeds until summer 2025.

Wilfried Gnonto linked with Leeds exit once again

The Athletic has also revealed that talented Leeds winger Wilfried Gnonto is also in the process of changing his agents to potentially help facilitate a move away from Elland Road.

The Italy star did his upmost to leave over the summer, only for the Whites to put the brakes on his plans and rebuffing countless offers – the last of which topped £25m – from Everton.

That led to the player going on strike, with Farke putting his foot down and removing the player from first-team training at Leeds. Eventually, that all blew over with the 20-year-old accepting his fate.

Truth be told, however, he has never looked truly happy since and speculation over a move away from Elland Road has resurfaced in recent weeks.

To that end, Italian outfit Lazio are reportedly leading the chase for his signature and amid claims Leeds could now accept a reduced £20m bid for the star.

Now The Athletic reports that Gnonto is considering changing his agents to try and force through the transfer.

Despite that, though, Farke is keen to keep Gnonto at Elland Road and believes he will need to keep his leading talents at the club ahead of a packed schedule.

With the match against Ipswich on the horizon, Leeds are due to play a mammoth four games in a 10-day spell with matches at Preston (December 26) and West Brom (December 29) followed by a home date against Birmingham on New Year’s Day.

DON’T MISS ~ Exclusive: Aaronson set for crunch talks with Farke over Leeds return as faltering star given path back