El-Hadji Diouf has committed himself to Leeds United by signing a new 18-month deal, with a relieved Neil Warnock praising the Senegalese forward for “doing the right thing.”
Diouf and Leeds concluded contract talks on Friday afternoon after Diouf accepted an offer which is thought to be worth around twice the £5,000-a-week wage paid to him by United for the past three-and-a-half months.
Negotiations to extend the half-season deal agreed with Diouf at the beginning of September were threatening to drag into the January transfer window, and Warnock was increased fearful of losing a player who he described as a “match-winner”.
The United manager signed Diouf during the summer despite their chequered history which involved a public spat between the pair after an FA Cup game involving Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers in 2011.
Warnock infamously labelled Diouf a “sewer rat”, but they were reconciled following a chance meeting during the close season and Diouf turned down offers from the Middle East to spend the first half of this season at Elland Road.
His performances have consistently caught the eye and although he rejected an initial offer from Leeds last month as rival interest from Premier League and Championship clubs grew, he has taken up a contract which will keep him in West Yorkshire until the summer of 2014.
Warnock told the YEP: “He’s a match-winner and we simply don’t have many of those.
“We needed this deal to happen and as much as I’ve got a good relationship with him, you worry that the big clubs will come calling and cause you trouble.
“If I was a Premier League manager and I’d seen him play this season then I’d have been interested in him.
“I always thought he’d stop here but you never say never until the deal’s signed. It’s a massive relief.
“In fairness, he knows what it took for me to bring him here. I put a bit of history aside and the relationship’s worked. We’ve worked well together.
“Given all that I thought it was right for him to stay – the right thing for him to do if we made him the right offer.”
Diouf was one of five existing Leeds players who Warnock hoped to tie down beyond the end of their short-term contracts. Michael Tonge, Alan Tate, Jerome Thomas and Ryan Hall are all presently on loan at Elland Road.
Hall is expected to join United in a £150,000 move from Southend United next month and the club hope to reach a permanent deal with Stoke City midfielder Tonge. Leeds are also believed to be preparing a £250,000 bid for Tate in a firm demonstration of their commitment to signing the Swansea City defender.
The 30-year-old centre-back has impressed since joining United on a temporary basis last month and Warnock has made clear his desire to re-sign Tate once the transfer window opens.
Leeds could find Swansea receptive to offers with Tate on the fringes of their squad but he is contracted to City until 2015 and admitted in an interview with the YEP yesterday that leaving Swansea would be a “serious decision” after eight-and-a-half years with the club.
Tate said: “Whether this turns into a more permanent move, who knows? It’s not something I’ve spoken about.”
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was equally non-committal on Tate’s future after agreeing to send him on loan to Leeds on the last day of the emergency loan window.
Laudrup said: “We have five players in his position so it was a good decision by Alan to go and play some football. Now we will see what happens but whether it’s going to be a permanent deal is going to depend on a lot of factors.”
Tate has made four appearances for Leeds, including three in their victories over Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town.