Leeds United and Chesterfield are at an impasse over the proposed transfer of Liam Cooper to Elland Road after Chesterfield rejected an offer of almost £500,000.
United claimed to have ended their interest in 22-year-old Cooper tonight with the two sides in stalemate and Chesterfield standing firm over their valuation of the defender.
Leeds have had two bids turned down, the second worth £475,000, and Chesterfield’s board are believed to be holding out a fee of around £1m for the centre-back.
United are unwilling to raise their offer further, saying in a statement: “The club will not be progressing this matter further and any interest in the player has now ended.”
Cooper, who played against Leeds in a friendly at the Proact Stadium last weekend, is understood to be pushing for a move and United’s failure to agree a price with Chesterfield could tempt him to submit a formal transfer request.
The former Hull City centre-back was identified as a potential signing during Saturday’s 2-2 draw between the sides. He was recommended by Nicola Salerno, an advisor of Leeds owner Massimo Cellino.
Cellino has been abroad for most of the past fortnight and was not present at the friendly but United opened negotiations with Chesterfield on the strength of Salerno’s appraisal.
Cooper began his career at Hull and made a handful of appearances for the Humberside club before joining Chesterfield in January 2013.
He was a fixture in the Chesterfield side who won the League Two title last season.
But while Cooper’s switch to Leeds is in doubt, Tom Lees’ departure from Elland Road looks ever more likely with Sheffield Wednesday on the verge of signing the England Under-21 international.
Lees has been on the books at United since the age of eight and has made more senior appearances for the club than any other member of the current squad but he is out of favour and ready to move on after two difficult seasons.
He played no part in Saturday’s draw with Chesterfield or in Tuesday’s friendly at Swindon Town and was also omitted from the squad sent to Northern Ireland for a clash with Glenavon last night.
The defender’s contract at Elland Road runs for another two years but Cellino is ready to sanction his exit and Lees held successful talks with Wednesday today.
His partner appeared to confirm the transfer on Twitter, saying they were “excited to see what SWFC has in store”, and Lees was present at tonight’s friendly between Wednesday and Newcastle United.