Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has promised that the four-year contract handed to midfielder Ronaldo Vieira will mark the end of the club’s habit of selling academy products.
Radrizzani said his policy at Elland Road would be “to keep young players” after tying Vieira to a new long-term deal on his first full day as sole owner of Leeds.
Vieira agreed the terms of an improved contract last month on the back of his first full season as a professional and a week after receiving his first international call-up.
The 18-year-old was included in the England Under-20 squad for the Toulon Tournament in France and featured last week as three wins steered England into the semi-finals. Vieira’s selection came on the strength of a domestic campaign in which he stepped up from Leeds’ development squad to make 38 senior appearance and win the club’s young player of the year award.
A former Leeds team-mate of Vieira’s, Lewis Cook, is also involved on international duty at present as part of the England squad that reached the last four of the Under-20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Mexico yesterday.
Cook was sold by United to Bournemouth for around £6m last summer, prior to Radrizzani’s initial investment in the club.
Leeds, meanwhile, are resigned to losing left-back Charlie Taylor in this transfer window after the 23-year-old ran down his three-year deal and resisted talks about an extension. Radrizzani has been in full control of Leeds for less than a month but the 42-year-old insisted that the extended deal with Vieira represented a shift in policy at Elland Road.
He also indicated that the appointment of Ivan Bravo to United’s board – recruiting a man who runs Qatar’s Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence – would see significant improvements made to Leeds’ academy at Thorp Arch.
“It’s not my priority to sell young players,” Radrizzani said. “It’s actually the opposite. I want to keep young players.
“With Ivan Bravo joining the board we have an important executive who specialises in youth academies. He’s been working for six years in Qatar to build one of the best academies I’ve seen in my entire life at Aspire.
“They’re building the Qatar national team for the World Cup in 2022 so I’m confident that co-operation with Aspire will help Leeds to bring out more talent in the future.”
Radrizzani is almost two weeks into his search for a new manager after former head coach Garry Monk resigned from his post within days of the Italian’s takeover of Leeds.
Assistant coach Pep Clotet remains under contract at United until the end of this month but despite speculation that he is in contention for the vacancy, the YEP understands that he is unlikely to be offered the chance to replace Monk.