Leeds United have agreed a deal to sign Chelsea midfielder Lewis Bate, according to reports.
It was reported recently that Bate was looking likely to leave Chelsea in search of first-team opportunities elsewhere. According to the Daily Mail, he has been attracting interest from Leeds, Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton. The situation has developed quickly and now one suitor is in the clear lead.
According to The Athletic, Leeds have now had a bid accepted for the 18-year-old. The exact size of the fee is not specified. Chelsea will retain a sell-on clause but there will not be a buy-back clause in their favour.
Leeds have been looking to strengthen in midfield for a while and the imminent addition of Bate should give them a long-term option. It remains to be seen if they will target a more experienced midfielder as well, but at least this will be one more body in the engine room for them.
It is not yet a done deal and The Athletic warn that other suitors could yet hijack proceedings. However, the clock is ticking, because Leeds are close to completing the deal.
Bate could undergo a medical as early as Wednesday, with discussions over personal terms already underway.
Should the deal go through, Bate will become the fifth new signing of the summer for Leeds. They have also brought in teenage talents Amari Miller and Sean McGurk, as well as making Jack Harrison’s move from Manchester City permanent and capturing Junior Firpo from Barcelona.
Leeds finished in the top half in their long-awaited first season back in the Premier League in 2020-21. The target now is to consolidate their place and they are reinforcing as many areas of their squad as possible to do so.
Bate could well be the next to arrive at Elland Road after seeing his opportunities slim at Stamford Bridge. He is yet to make his senior debut for them, but has featured regularly at under-23 level.
With his contract in its final year, Chelsea will have to sell as he looks to continue his career elsewhere. It now seems extremely likely that his destination will be Leeds.
More Chelsea academy players to leave?
Chelsea have one of the best academies in the country, but many of their top talents have not been given enough chances in the first team.
The likes of Mason Mount and Reece James have made a name for themselves, but others have had to find alternative entry routes into senior football. For example, defender Marc Guehi has joined Crystal Palace and Fikayo Tomori made his move to AC Milan permanent.
Doubts currently linger over the future of striker Tammy Abraham, despite him being their top scorer in each of the last two seasons.
And some players further away from a breakthrough, like Bate, could also consider their futures.
The Athletic recently named Valentino Livramento and Myles Peart-Harris as two of Bate’s peers who are also thinking of leaving.
None have been called up to Chelsea’s pre-season training camp and are now eyeing different pathways. Livramento, another midfielder, has been linked with Southampton, Brighton and RB Leipzig.
Another under-23s player, Dynel Simeu, is attracting interest from an anonymous Premier League club.