Leeds United have reportedly joined two Premier League rivals in the chase to land a highly-rated Sporting Lisbon midfielder this summer.
Despite considerable doubt over the club’s top-flight status, it appears that transfer chief Victor Orta is already sizing up signings for next season, although the quality of those additions will very clearly depend on Javi Gracia’s men avoiding a bottom-three finish this season.
After earning a huge win over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest in early April, Leeds have conceded 11 goals in two home games in heavy defeats to Crystal Palace and Liverpool.
That leaves the Whites sitting 16th in the table, just two points above the drop zone.
But despite their precarious position, plans are still seemingly afoot to bolster their squad with a new midfield addition.
Recent reports suggest that a pre-agreed £30million move for on-loan star Weston McKennie is set to fall through, which will leave room for another player to arrive in the Leeds engine room.
And, according to Portuguese newspaper Record, that player could be Sporting star Manuel Ugarte.
The 22-year-old has been strongly linked with both Tottenham and Newcastle in recent weeks. But now Record reports that Leeds are also in the mix for his signature.
Leeds on watching Ugarte brief
The report claims that the club’s scouting department have been monitoring Ugarte’s progress for some time. Indeed, they have had a watching brief since the midfielder’s days at Uruguayan club Fenix.
Record adds that Orta is an ‘appreciator’ of Ugarte’s qualities, even more so since his stock has risen in Portugal.
To that end, the player has been added to Leeds’ list of summer transfer targets, assuming they remain in the Premier League.
Ugarte will not come cheap, however, with his current release clause set at €60million (£53m).
But despite that figure, increased interest in the midfielder has since prompted Sporting to try and raise that exit price to €80m (£70m) instead.
Those sort of prices will not matter a jot to Leeds though if they cannot put an end to their worrying run of results.
Next up for Gracia’s men is a Saturday lunchtime trip to London to face Fulham.