There is nothing ambiguous about Pontus Jansson and he cut to the chase when a Swedish broadcaster asked him this week if a permanent transfer to Leeds United appealed to him as much as it surely appeals to the club.
“It’s something I really want to happen,” he replied. “From what I understand, they’re already negotiating it. I hope they do a deal before the games I have to play to make it happen.”
It would pay to be proactive with a loanee like Jansson – a centre-back who, at first glance, is arguably playing below his level in the Championship. He is a priority case where negotiations are concerned but United have work to do on the contractual front in a squad where only 14 of the players named in their first-team squad list are under contract beyond this season. Here, Inside Elland Road analyses the prospects for the key members of Garry Monk’s team:
Leeds have five loanees on their books, the maximum allowed in any matchday squad under Football League rules. Jansson has been the pick of them so far, a barnstorming addition to a side who were crying out for an authoritative centre-back a month into the season.
Leeds agreed with Torino, his parent club, that they would move to sign Jansson permanently if and when the Sweden international made 20 appearances (as a footballer with prior knee problems, that target represents a test of fitness as much as anything else).
He is up to seven already and to judge by his comments this week, there is willingness on all sides to get on with talks. Reports in Sweden say Torino will value the 25-year-old at around £3.5m – which, as roughly twice the cost of Marcus Antonsson, seems like a fair price. Jansson’s dissatisfaction with his recent treatment by Torino and the feeling that he is well suited to the Championship seems to have made his own mind up.
His centre-back partner, Kyle Bartley, is less of a certainty. Swansea had no need of him this season and may see no future for Bartley beyond it but they ensured that he signed a new one-year deal before he joined United on loan in July. Without it, the former Arsenal trainee would have been a free agent in 2017. His extension and his current form ensures that if City decide to move him on, he will still command a fee.
Leeds have more control over Pablo Hernandez, who should sign permanently for the club in the January transfer window. Although his initial deal was a half-season loan, Al-Arabi do not expect him to return to Qatar and United planned at the outset to convert his deal to a full-time agreement to the end of this season, with the option of retaining him for the 2017-18 term. His current form will not discourage them from pushing that proposal through.
As for Hadi Sacko, the winger arrived from Sporting Lisbon with a view to a permanent transfer but Leeds are likely to take time to assess him fully before committing to further talks. He would come at a cost, though only a fraction of the £60m buy-out clause which Sporting included in his deal when he joined from Bordeaux in 2014. The Portuguese club use clauses of that nature to protect themselves in transfer negotiations but in two years, Sacko failed to make his first-team debut.
United’s fifth loanee is Matt Grimes, the Swansea City midfielder, but after two starts in two months, he cannot claim to have made any waves so far.
Out of contract players:
As it stands, five of United’s players will be free agents or available for a tribunal fee in July 2017 – Rob Green, Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt, Lewie Coyle and Souleymane Doukara. Centre-back Liam Cooper signed a three-year contract when he joined from Chesterfield in 2014 but while it went unannounced, he is understood to have agreed a 12-month extension to 2018 last season.
Goalkeeper Green is also likely to be tied to new terms in the months ahead owing to an appearance-related clause in his deal. The England international has been first choice under Garry Monk since the opening weekend of the campaign and is well on the way to earning himself a second year at Elland Road.
After his transfer request in July, left-back Charlie Taylor seems destined to leave either in January or when this season ends. Provided he joins another English club, United would receive a fee in compensation for him next summer. Compensation would also be due for Alex Mowatt and Lewie Coyle, both of whom are into their last 12 months. Leeds opened contract talks with them around the beginning of August but have not reached an agreement with either player yet.
Less effort has been made to extend the stay of Souleymane Doukara and while Monk has too few strikers to rule Doukara out of the equation, this is likely to be the Frenchman’s last year at Elland Road.
He, Cooper, Marco Silvestri and Gaetano Berardi are the only surviving members of the mass influx of players which followed Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds in the summer of 2014.
Current first-team players under contract next season: Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper, Kemar Roofe, Chris Wood, Marcus Antonsson, Marco Silvestri, Eunan O’Kane, Stuart Dallas, Kalvin Phillips, Ronaldo Vieira, Liam Bridcutt, Gaetano Berardi, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tyler Denton.
Leeds United have seconded the experienced Liz Coley to cover the role of club secretary following the sacking of Stuart Hayton last month.
Hayton, a former Wigan Athletic and Liverpool employee, was dismissed from his post after 15 months on the day before Leeds’ 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town. Neither he nor the club have made any comment about the reasons behind his departure.
Coley, who is an associate at Leeds solicitors Walker Morris, has a CV showing previous jobs at Fulham, West Ham United, Southampton and the Football Association. Her last full-time post in football, as Sunderland’s club secretary, ended shortly after an administrative mix-up which saw South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won play in four games despite being ineligible.
The Leeds United Supporters Trust’s annual general meeting, held in Leeds on Saturday and detailed in last week’s column, ratified the election of six new faces to the group’s board.
The new board members are: Dave Carrington, Emma Carrington, Jon Howe, Ian McMullen, Steve White, plus one supporter who asked for their details not to be published by the Evening Post. The Trust’s chairman, Michael Green, revealed at the AGM how losses of more than £2,000 had been turned into a £1,000 surplus during what he described as a “difficult time for the Trust.”