Lewis Cook has dismissed the possibility of a dramatic exit from Leeds United today, insisting he will not be involved in the scramble leading up to FIFA’s 11pm transfer deadline.
United’s highly-rated teenager spoke out about his future after a month in which he was linked with a multi-million move to the Premier League.
Cook has attracted persistent interest from Bournemouth during the January window but the south coast club are yet to meet Leeds’ valuation and appeared to have admitted defeat in their pursuit of the midfielder.
Both Leeds head coach Steve Evans and owner Massimo Cellino have claimed repeatedly that Cook, who is under contract at Elland Road for another 18 months, would not be sold in this window and the England Under-19 international said he was committed to remaining with United after Saturday’s FA Cup win at Bolton Wanderers.
“I’m 18 and playing most games,” said Cook, who saw fellow academy product Sam Byram leave for West Ham United in a £3.7m move last month.
“It’s great for me developing and I feel like I’m learning a lot. Hopefully I can push on my game a little bit further.
“Some people make that choice (to move to the Premier League at a young age) and it doesn’t always work out for them. At the moment I feel like I’m enjoying my football. Leeds are a big club as it is. I love playing for Leeds at the moment.” Cook was adamant that he would still be a United player when Saturday’s Championship clash with Nottingham Forest arrived, saying: “Definitely. I’ll be here.”
Byram’s exit from Elland Road was widely expected after the right-back turned down an offer to extend a contract which expired at the end of this season but Cook’s future was seen as a more serious test of United’s resolve.
Asked about speculation surrounding him and how he would feel amid deadline-day coverage, Cook said: “I won’t pay attention to it. I’m a Leeds United player. I like watching it, it’s a good part of the day, but I’m a Leeds player.
“Maybe for some people it might be a bit disruptive but not really for me. I just focus on my game and playing for Leeds. That’s it.” Evans said on Thursday that he expected Cellino to refuse all offers for prominent members of his first-team squad and he remains hopeful that new players will arrive before the January deadline passes this evening.
United have completed three deals so far, extending Liam Bridcutt’s loan from Sunderland, signing Mustapha Carayol on a temporary basis from Middlesbrough and paying £575,000 to take Toumani Diagouraga from Brentford, but Evans has so far failed to add a new striker to his squad.
Leeds failed with a bid of £300,000 for Barnsley forward Sam Winnall on Thursday and Evans indicated that an approach to sign Fraizer Campbell on loan had been rejected by Crystal Palace.
Barnsley’s board were angered by United’s offer for Winnall but Evans defended the bid and said Leeds would not be returning with an improved valuation.
“We had a bid rejected,” Evans said. “There’s been some insulting comments come out of South Yorkshire about our bid. We thought it was in confidence.
“Nothing to do with the player, he’s decent player, but I’m not going to talk about him anymore. We’ll not be going back for him.
“But am I thinking we’ll add to the group? Yes. Nothing surprises you. We could add three, we could add none. We’ve certainly got three in mind.”
Cook, meanwhile, paid tribute to a huge travelling crowd of 6,630 after goals from Souleymane Doukara and Diagouraga earned a 2-1 win at Bolton and carried Leeds into the FA Cup’s fifth round.
“They were unbelievable in the support they gave us,” Cook said. “I can’t believe the turnout. It was an unbelievable feeling for us on the pitch and they never stopped singing all the way through.”