Leeds United have rejected a £3.5million bid from West Ham United for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack.
The Scotland international is at the centre of doubts about his future for the second transfer window running with West Ham trying to close out a deal to take him to Upton Park.
Their approach for McCormack comes at the end of a worrying week in which Sport Capital – the group bidding to buy Leeds from current owner Gulf Finance House – struggled to bring their takeover to a conclusion.
McCormack is United’s most influential and valuable player, with 18 goals to his name this season, and West Ham’s seven-figure offer materialised little over seven days after he was named as Leeds’ new captain by manager Brian McDermott.
Last night’s bid is the second serious attempt to sign McCormack in the past year, following on from Middlesbrough’s persistent but failed push to take him to Teesside in August.
United fought off Boro’s highest offer of close to £2million by handing McCormack a new four-year contract and making him their highest-paid player.
The option of a switch to West Ham comes with the added incentive of a move to the Premier League, though Sam Allardyce’s squad are two places above the bottom of the division after 12 defeats from 22 games.
The London club have suffered from a lack of goals throughout the season and McCormack is currently the Championship’s top scorer after a prolific run of form before Christmas.
During an interview with the YEP in November, McCormack suggested that a transfer to a struggling top-flight side would not interest him, saying: “I signed a four-year contract because I definitely believe that within that contract we can get this club back into the Premier League. When we do that I’ll be a happy man.
“You’ve got assess it – would you rather go to a Premier League team who might be in a relegation fight or do you stay here and try to become one of the top goalscorers ever at this club? It was a no-brainer and I’m privileged to play for such a big club.”
The sale of McCormack midway through United’s campaign would be a deeply unpopular move at a time when United’s ownership structure and future direction remains unclear.
Sport Capital agreed a deal to buy a 75 per cent stake from GFH two months ago but the buy-out has been under pressure this week amid disagreements between the two sides.