Leeds United: Raynor eager to sign up the young guns

Paul Raynor.

Paul Raynor.

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Leeds United assistant coach Paul Raynor said he wanted to see extended contracts handed to leading youngsters in the wake of Sam Byram’s exit from Elland Road as the club awaited the outcome of bids for two new players.

Raynor confirmed that written offers for two potential signings had been submitted by Leeds this week and said head coach Steve Evans was being allowed to use money raised through the sale of Byram to West Ham United.

West Ham paid in excess of £3m to take Byram from Elland Road on Wednesday and Evans is looking to reinvest that cash quickly with the transfer window due to close in 10 days’ time.

United have not named their targets but Evans has spoken openly of his interest in Norwich striker Kyle Lafferty and enquired about Celtic’s Australia international midfielder Tom Rogic.

The Leeds boss showed a firm interest in three other forwards during the recent emergency loan window – Kike at Middlesbrough, Swansea City’s Marvin Emnes and Charlton Athletic’s Tony Watt – and a deal for Bournemouth’s Lee Tomlin has also been mooted amid persistent interest from Bournemouth in Lewis Cook, United’s 18-year-old England youth international.

Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony, meanwhile, revealed on Twitter that Leeds had made an approach for Marcus Maddison, Peterborough’s 22-year-old forward.

Raynor, who spoke at yesterday’s press conference with Evans involved in transfer talks with United owner Massimo Cellino, said: “We have got a couple of written bids out there. I know that for a fact and I know the manager works very closely with the president.

“I know the manager was in contact with a club (on Wednesday) night and also made a verbal bid so things are happening. We’re trying to do things, we want to improve and the president has been very receptive to our ideas.

“There’s money available and if there wasn’t money available, we wouldn’t be making bids.”

In an interview with LUTV, United’s in-house television station, Evans also said he would be backed with funds earned from Byram’s transfer.

“It may look as if Sam goes out and nothing happens coming in but far from it,” Evans said. “The Sam Byram money plus more money is available now. There was more than what Sam went for three days ago. But we have to find the right players.”

Byram’s departure came as no surprise with his contract due to expire in the summer and hopes of the defender agreeing an extension extinguished by fractious talks between his advisors and Cellino.

His move to West Ham, however, continued a familiar trend of leading players quitting Elland Road and focused attention on the deals held by three other youngsters, Cook, Charlie Taylor and Alex Mowatt. All three academy products have 18 months left to run, as Byram did this time last year.

Bournemouth have made no secret of their interest in Cook but have not met United’s valuation of him. Stoke City and Crystal Palace are believed to be monitoring Taylor.

Asked how Leeds could avoid further departures, Raynor said: “You hopefully tie them down to longer contracts. You’re hopefully challenging at the top end of the table so that they don’t want to leave.

“The ultimate prize is playing in the Premier League. When I was a youngster, you wanted to play at the highest level you could. You want to play in the Premier League. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year at Leeds so fair play to Sam, he’s gone to pastures new. That happens.

“What we need to try and do is tie these lads to longer contracts and hopeful they see that we’re moving forward as a club, with myself and the gaffer, to go onto bigger and better things.”

Raynor admitted he was not aware if any contract negotiations were underway but said: “There may well have been. It’s something that would be in the president’s mind and the manager’s mind because we don’t want to be in this situation again. You don’t want to lose your better players. But we got to a point with Sam where a decision had to be made.”