Leeds United needed to show more ambition with their payment structure for transfer target Lewis O’Brien, Huddersfield’s chairman has said.
The Whites enjoyed a successful summer window, capped off with Daniel James’ signing from Manchester United. The Wales international was a long-term target, but his move to Elland Road fell through at the first attempt. Meanwhile, Junior Firpo has added to the left-back ranks.
However, midfield remained an untouched area for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. England international Kalvin Phillips has proved their anchor, but also arguably their most missed player.
Huddersfield midfielder O’Brien therefore emerged as a key target for Bielsa. The 22-year-old won the Terrier’s Player of the Year award in 2019/20 and enjoyed a solid 2020/21 term.
Reports have claimed that United saw an opening £5m offer for O’Brien rejected by Town in August. Furthermore, a £7million bid was mooted, despite Huddersfield supposedly wanting £12million.
Now, Huddersfield chairman Peter Hodgkinson has revealed all. While Leeds – led by director of football Victor Orta – offered a satisfactory £13million, they did not structure the deal appropriately.
“It didn’t work for us as a football club, and my concern was the fact Leeds wouldn’t go up to a structure we wanted, which was a reasonable one. Even the player’s agent said so,” Hodgkinson told BBC Radio Leeds.
“That said to me he was going to Leeds as a squad player, because if you want someone and you want them to come and play in the Premier League [you meet the seller’s demands].
“We weren’t that far apart on the guaranteed amount and the structure of the add-ons, we weren’t that far apart, it was a million pounds in reality.”
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The chairman added that, with O’Brien’s deal running out next summer, he is in talks over an extension.
He also revealed the player’s own insight into the potential transfer to Elland Road from the Championship.
‘Fantastic’ O’Brien handled transfer interest
Hodgkinson added: “Lewis said ‘Of course I want to play in the Premier League and playing for someone like Bielsa, with his reputation, can only make me better, but I understand the offer’s got to be right for the football club’.
“‘It will not affect me in any way, it will not affect my commitment, what I do in training, what I do on the pitch, I just want to play football, that’s all I want to do’.
“Lewis was fantastic. There were no additional knocks on the door, when each offer came in we discussed it with Lewis and his agent and we explained why it wasn’t acceptable to us, and there was absolutely no negative response at all from Lewis.”
Leeds have made a mixed start to the Premier League season, drawing twice and losing one of their three games.