SAM BYRAM’S January sale was a deal that “had to be done” in the eyes of Leeds United assistant head coach Paul Raynor.
Byram is settling into life as a Premier League player at West Ham United having been sold to the Hammers for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £3.7m.
But United’s assistant believes the Whites had no choice but to cash in on the star right-back who had turned down the club’s offer of a new contract and was all set to leave in the summer when his Whites deal expired.
Raynor also paid a warm tribute to Byram, describing the 22-year-old as the “ultimate professional” but the Whites No 2 is keen to now start a new chapter at Leeds with chairman Massimo Cellino making the full money from Byram’s sale available to fund new recruits.
“It was a deal that had to be done,” said Raynor of Byram’s sale.
“The timing had to be done and Sam was going to leave in the summer anyway.
“Unfortunately we lost Sam and that was disappointing but that was the way it evolved and Sam wasn’t going to stay.
“Sam was offered a new contract, chose not to take it and moved on and we wish him all the best. We just got to a point with Sam that the decision had to be made.
“But it will hopefully help us to bring one or two players in and it was inevitable we were going to lose Sam whether it be now or at the end of the season.
“We had to make a decision and that was the decision that was made so we have to get on with it.
“It’s been dragging on since the start of the season and while I know we have spoken about if maybe we’d have been here longer we could have convinced him and if we’d have been higher in the table we could have convinced him - I think it was always inevitable that he was going to go in this window because, obviously, he had turned down the new offer.
“But I know that the gaffer spoke to him long and hard about trying to persuade him and, make no mistake, if we’d have been pushing for promotion to the Premier League, Sam Byram wouldn’t have been leaving because he wants to play in the Premier League and good luck to him in terms of doing that.
“He has joined a fantastic club, I feel as though he will play a part there, they have sold him the dream that he will play a part moving forward and all we can say is good luck to Sam.”
Paying tribute to Byram both as a person and a player, Raynor added: “He was a popular lad, he’s a great lad, he was an ultimate professional and probably, bar the staff, he was first in and last out, doing his rehab, doing his work and doing his fitness sessions.
“It’s another chapter for him and it’s another chapter for us moving forward without him now.”