Leeds United: Luton Town midfielder emerges as surprise transfer target

Luton Town's Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu.
Luton Town's Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu.
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LUTON Town’s Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu emerged as a surprise potential target for Leeds United as the clock ticked closer to tonight’s transfer deadline.

Clubs have until 11pm this evening to finalise their year’s regular transfer activity, with the Whites on the hunt for both a new striker and midfielder option.

And United have reportedly expressed an interest in 23-year-old Hatters midfielder Mpanzu, who came on as a 66th-minute substitute in the League Two club’s EFL Cup clash at Kenilworth Road earlier this month.

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The second-round cup encounter was witnessed by Whites chairman Massimo Cellino, who is said to have been particularly impressed by the former West Ham United player who can also play in defence.

There were reports that United had seen a bid from Luton rejected yesterday, but there was no official confirmation from either club. United are known to be interested in signing young West Ham United forward Ashley Fletcher, but the chances of the 20-year-old making a summer loan switch to Leeds look slim based on the striker’s outing for the full 90 minutes of West Ham’s Premier Division clash at Manchester City on Sunday.

United have also been linked with a move for Zulte-Waregem’s former Belgian under-21 left back Bryan Verboom, who could become an option in the event that star left-back Charlie Taylor is sold on the final day of the summer transfer window.

West Brom, Bournemouth and Liverpool are heading the interest in the 22-year-old defender, who formally asked for a transfer request last month after Whites owner Massimo Cellino accused Taylor of refusing to enter into talks about a new deal.

The defender’s current deal expires next summer but Cellino has previously stated that Taylor will not be allowed to move on until his current contract runs out.

But the prospect of big-money bidsfrom cash-rich clubs in the Premier League could test United’s resolve, with Taylor having been watched by West Brom boss Tony Pulis during Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool, Bournemouth, Burnley, Middlesbrough and Stoke City have also been linked with a move for Taylor, who could attract a fee in the region of £8m.

Regardless of developments with Taylor, United could look to lighten their squad in other areas before tonight’s 11pm deadline with out-of-favour midfielders Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga both linked with moves away from Elland Road.

Both midfielders were left out of head coach Garry Monk’s 18-man squad for Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Nottingham Forest and Murphy is said to be attracting the interest of League One side Sheffield United.

Diagouraga, who has formerly been linked with a move to Rangers, could be the subject of a loan bid from Rotherham United.

United have brought in 10 senior players during the current transfer window in Marcus Antonsson, Robert Green, Kemar Roofe, Luke Ayling and Liam Bridcutt, plus Kyle Bartley, Hadi Sacko, Mattt Grimes, Pablo Hernandez and Pontus Jannson on loan.

Ten senior players have also left the club, headed by midfielder Lewis Cook, who was sold to Bournemouth for a fee which could rise to £10m.

Mirco Antenucci, Scott Wootton, Casper Sloth, Tomasso Bianchi and Eric Grimes have also all left permanently, while Giuseppe Bellusci, Lee Erwin, Jordan Botaka and Alex Purver have all left on loan.

Following tonight’s 11pm deadline, clubs are forbidden from conducting any further transfer activity until January, other than to bring in free agents.

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