Leeds have had a third offer for Southampton striker Che Adams rejected, with the Premier League side underlining their determination to prevent the player joining the Championship promotion hopefuls.
The Sky Bet Championship club want to sign Adams initially on loan but their latest proposal reportedly had the option to complete a permanent £20million deal for the 23-year-old if they are promoted. That is some distance more than the £15million Saints paid to take Adams to St Mary’s from Birmingham over the summer.
Leeds, who offered a substantial loan fee for Adams, are desperate to boost their attacking options after winning only one of their last seven league matches and seeing their once healthy lead in the Championship evaporate away.
They have been linked for several weeks with Adams, who scored 22 goals for Birmingham in the Championship last season before joining Southampton for £15million in the summer and reports on Tuesday night suggested Leeds still had a belief they could get the deal done.
Adams has been used mainly as a substitute in the top flight this season, but Saints boss Ralph Hassenhuttl has made it clear the striker remains a key part of his plans.
“I cannot consider that I loan him out because I need every player, especially in the attacking position, we don’t have that many,” the Saints boss said.
“I know he is not so happy at the moment because he didn’t play so often and did not score, but we know what we have with him and we know we need him in the second half of the season.”
Leeds will continue to work on several other transfer targets and remain in talks with several other clubs, both in England and across Europe.
They have been linked with Watford striker Andre Gray and Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle among others.
Leeds are determined to avoid breaching the English Football League’s Profit and Sustainability rules and can be expected to pursue a loan-to-buy deal with any new signings.
Championship rivals Birmingham over spent in relation to their revenue last season and were handed a nine-point deduction by the EFL.
The 23-year-old Adams has scored 34 goals and provided 13 assists in 116 Championship games, including 22 goals and five assists for Birmingham last season before his £15million move to St Mary’s.