Leeds see value soar as club move to tie down star Marcelo Bielsa loves

Date published: Monday 6th September 2021 9:48 - James Marshment

Lewis O'Brien during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Huddersfield Town at The Den

Huddersfield are in talks over a new deal for midfielder Lewis O’Brien following strong summer interest from Leeds United.

The Whites ended their summer window with a £25m deal to sign Manchester United winger Daniel James. The winger has been a long-standing target of Marcelo Bielsa, who almost brought in him from Swansea back in 2019.

In signing James, Leeds have added to their winger quota. It’s an area already well covered with the Wales star adding to Jack Harrison, Raphinha and youngster Crysencio Summerville.

But in signing James, Leeds failed to add to their central midfield options. It’s an area many felt they needed most to address, given their struggles whenever Kalvin Phillips misses out.

Leeds though did have aims to strengthen their in the summer. Having missed out on Conor Callagher, Leeds then turned attentions towards Huddersfield’s O’Brien.

The midfielder impressed during the 2020/21 season, earning rave reviews for his performances with Bielsa a known admirer.

Indeed, his work-rate in the Town midfield saw him crowned the club’s Player of the Year.

As such, United reportedly saw an opening £5m offer for O’Brien rejected by Town earlier in August. And with Town holding out for a fee nearer £12m, it was claimed that Leeds could look to up their offer to nearer £7m.

However, the Huddersfield Examiner claims Town held firm to their valuation with O’Brien ultimately staying put.

Now the paper claims the club are in talks with the player and his agent over extending his deal.

His current arrangement is due to end in summer 2022, though Town do hold a one-year option on that. Now though they hope to extend his contract further in a deal that will ‘reflect the midfielder’s importance to Carlos Corberan’s side’.

That will ensure his value will rise considerably and protect Huddersfield’s interest should Leeds firm up their interest in January.

Speaking after the recent 4-0 win against Reading, in which O’Brien scored, Corberan appeared confident that O’Brien would stay.

“I only can tell you that I know our club did a lot of effort to keep O’Brien,” he said. “And I always appreciate this because for me O’Brien is one of our very very very very important players.”


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For Leeds though, they remain without cover in the central midfield area. While Stuart Dallas has performed admirably, they also have popular Poland midfielder Mateusz Klich as an option.

However, it is cover for Phillips where Leeds most clearly lack.

And while James was signed for his attributes as a winger, pundit Danny Mills has explained why he could play through the middle.

“Obviously he’s a player they were tracking a couple of years ago. He’s a player who has now got a lot more experience and big-game experience. He’s worked with some big players at a global club, which bodes well.

“What I like about him is that he’s got energy, he’s got pace, fantastic fitness levels. I think he will come into this side and fit in straight away, almost immediately.

“He’s got all those attributes that you want in a Bielsa player.

“It’s just interesting now where he’s going to fit in,”Mills added. “Raphinha could play off the right, with [Jack] Harrison off the left. Kalvin Phillips as the holding player. Then two number eights in Rodrigo and Dan James in free roles.

“Or, you could have Raphinha in one of those roles and James out on the right-hand side.

“It gives you one or two options. His energy, his quality, without being too disrespectful of the other option, Tyler Roberts, it is a big upgrade.

“The fee isn’t that bad either really.”

READ MORE: Leeds United rebuffed six offers for attacking starlet Bielsa rates highly

 

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