LEEDS UNITED are leaving the door open to another move for Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt.
United have kept their interest in Bridcutt alive since the end of his loan at Elland Road and the club are weighing up the cost of a permanent deal before the start of next season.
Bridcutt has 12 months on his Sunderland contract but is out of favour at the Stadium of Light.
Leeds were hopeful of negotiating a free transfer for the 26-year-old, who earns in the region of £26,000 a week, but Sunderland want to recoup a fee for a player who cost them £2.5m in 2014.
The ex-Chelsea trainee was one of three signings made by former Leeds head coach Steve Evans and his influential loan at Elland Road has maintained United’s in him, despite the recent change of first-team boss.
Bridcutt arrived at Leeds on an emergency loan last November, occuping a defensive midfield role and helping to steady a season which appeared to be heading for a relegation battle.
United renewed his loan until the end of the season in January and Evans planned to include Bridcutt on his list of transfer targets for next term.
Evans, however, parted company with Leeds last month and was replaced by Garry Monk, but United are continuing to look at the option of bringing Bridcutt back on a full-time basis.
Bridcutt earned a recall to the Scotland squad during his spell in Yorkshire and he was left in no doubt that his career at Sunderland was at an end following his temporary departure from the Stadium of Light. Speaking shortly before the end of the 2015-16 season, Bridcutt said: “For me, yes I’d like to stay at Leeds if the circumstances are right.
“But I do want to play in the Premier League. I’ve been at that level before. Every club I’m at, I want to be aiming high and I want the club to aim high.
“If Leeds are willing to do that in the summer then I’d be happy to stay.”
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce insisted last month that he wanted his surplus players to leave as quickly as possible, saying: “We’ll address the situation as part of the big summer turnaround.
“We’ll try to get them back out on loan again at the earliest opportunity, if we can’t move them on permanently.”
Bridcutt, who made 27 appearances for United, was linked strongly with his former club Brighton during his time at Elland Road and he is likely to draw a number of approaches before next season begins.
United have no shortage of midfielders at Elland Road and the signing of Bridcutt could prompt the departure of certain other players.
The club strengthened that area of their squad with the £600,000 signing of Toumani Diagouraga from Brentford in January while youngster Kalvin Phillips is set to take up a new three-year contract.
Sources in Sunderland, however, have played down rumours that Leeds are also pushing to sign Bridcutt’s Stadium of Light team-mate Sebastian Larsson. The Sweden international, who is also under contract for another year, has been linked with United repeatedly in recent weeks but reports in the north east say Leeds have made no contact about him.
Injuries and a lack of opportunities under Allardyce limited the 31-year-old midfielder to five starts in the Premier League this season.