Leeds United head coach Garry Monk says Pablo Hernandez is in line and ready to join the club on a permanent basis in January with the injured playmaker into the last few weeks of his loan at Elland Road.
Hernandez’s temporary move from Qatari club Al-Arabi finishes at the start of the transfer window but Monk said the Spaniard, who joined Leeds on a six-month deal in July, was “ready to commit” to a full-time contract and stay with United for the rest of the Championship term.
Leeds have five loanees on their books but Hernandez is the only member of that group whose spell in Yorkshire does not run to the end of the season.
Leeds, however, discussed a permanent arrangement with the former Valencia and Swansea City player when he moved from Al-Arabi and originally planned to tie him to a half-season contract in January with the option of a 12-month extension to cover the 2017-18 campaign.
Monk, who has been without Hernandez for the past month due to a hamstring injury, said he expected a fresh agreement to be finalised once the transfer window opened, removing any risk of Leeds losing Hernandez’s creative flair from their squad.
“That’s the plan,” Monk said. “Pablo’s committed to us, he’s enjoying his time here and he’s been a valuable player for us with his experience and quality.
“I don’t envisage a problem with that situation. I know Pablo wants to commit and from my understanding that’s the way it’ll be.”
Hernandez has grown into the Championship gradually this season, acclimatising to the division having come back to England two years after leaving Swansea for the Middle East.
His hamstring strain is one of several selection issues which have weighed on Leeds recently and Monk said the 31-year-old could be missing for another two weeks, despite resuming light training.
United’s boss will look to make additions to his squad in January with a striker likely to be a major priority but he insisted it was “too early” to focus on his plans for next month with six league games awaiting Leeds before the window opens.
“We’ve been quite unfortunate with injuries,” he said. “The majority have been impact injuries through tackles and things you can’t control. The way we train and recover has been very good and we’ve had very few muscle injuries.
“We haven’t got the biggest of squads but in terms of improving it and helping it in January, it’s a little bit early for that right now.”
Monk, meanwhile, said he was not abreast of discussions between United owner Massimo Cellino and Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani about a deal for Radrizzani to buy into the club.
Radrizzani responded to months of speculation on Monday by revealing he was negotiating a 50-50 split of shares with Cellino - Leeds’ majority shareholder since April 2014 - with a view to buying Cellino out completely next year.
In an interview with The Straits Times, a newspaper based in Singapore when Radrizzani’s investment firm Aser Media was established, he declined to make any comment on Monk’s position as head coach.
Monk said: “If any of that’s true then it’s for the club to work through. As of this moment, I’m not aware of anything.
“I’m very focused on the football. We have a lot of games and there’s not a lot of time to think about anything else.”