Leeds United have been told the spectre of Neil Warnock’s time in charge could give Aston Villa the edge in the race to sign a Chelsea star in January.
Warnock recently broke the record for the highest number of games managed at professional level in English football. He set the new benchmark of 1,602 matches in charge in his final act as Middlesbrough boss before leaving by mutual consent on November 6.
Warnock previously managed Leeds United in 2012-13, and it is his time at Elland Road that concerns today’s news.
While at the helm, the then-promising Everton midfielder Ross Barkley was loaned to the club. But despite boundless potential, Barkley was given just four matches to impress in a largely forgettable spell in West Yorkshire.
In the present day, Leeds have been heavily linked with bringing Barkley on board for a second time.
Indeed, a TEAMtalk exclusive revealed several clubs including Leeds were on alert after Chelsea began to consider loaning Barkley out in January. If he was, an option to buy would likely be included with Barkley due to become a free agent in the summer of 2023.
Barkley has featured more regularly under Thomas Tuchel of late. He has appeared in each of their last three league matches. However, the likes of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho make becoming a regular starter near-impossible.
Furthermore the wildly impressive Conor Gallagher will be in the mix next season and his stellar form at Crystal Palace suggests he’ll jump ahead of Barkley in the pecking order.
As such, Barkley could soon move on, but pundit Danny Mills reckons his previous miserable spell on loan may have “soured” his opinion of the Whites. Instead, he believes fellow suitor Aston Villa are a better bet.
“He’s been here before and it didn’t quite work out for him under Neil Warnock,” Mills told Football Insider. “That may have soured it a little bit.
“The problem that you may have is, Villa with Steven Gerrard and Norwich with potential Frank Lampard will have a strong pull for these types of players.
“That’s what might be difficult, to get a player of that ilk in January.”
Lampard has been ruled out of the race to become the next manager of Norwich. Nonetheless, Mills’ comments about Villa could yet ring true. Indeed, Barkley excelled while on loan at Villa Park last year and Gerrard is expected to be given room to manoeuvre in the January window.
Leeds United eye familiar face to add cutting edge
Meanwhile, Leeds United have made contact with Eddie Nketiah with Whites looking to strike a bargain deal for the Arsenal striker in January, claims a report.
The 22-year-old appears surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium. He has not played a single minute of Premier League football in 2021-2022. The Londoner will be out of contract in the summer and an exit in January seems inevitable.
Indeed, a number of clubs are being linked with his signature. Crystal Palace and West Ham are both seemingly on his trail, while reports last weekend cited Borussia Monchengladbach as a potential option.
However, according to Tuttomercatoweb, it is Leeds who look the most likely candidates to sign Nketiah. The striker spent six months on loan at Leeds United during their promotion season. He scored three goals from appearances 17 appearances, though was largely restricted to substitute appearances.
Nketiah reportedly remains good pals with several members of the Leeds squad. He also earned a Championship winners’ medal for his efforts at Elland Road.
And he is reportedly open to the prospect of a return to Elland Road as he weighs up his future.
Indeed, the report claims director of football Victor Orta has kept a close watch on his progress since leaving Leeds. And they state that a cut-price January deal looks to be on the cards with Leeds looking light up front.