Simon Grayson has confirmed that Bradley Johnson has rejected a new contract with Leeds United but still wants to see the midfielder commit to a long-term deal.
Grayson said Johnson's representatives had deemed unacceptable the terms offered to him by Leeds, but he insisted negotiations were not "dead and buried" with the 23-year-old drifting towards the end of his existing deal.
Johnson's contract expires at the end of this season – one of numerous players who might be available on free transfers next summer – and Grayson revealed that United are in discussions with three other professionals in the same position, understood to be Neil Kilkenny, Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma.
Rumours of Johnson's decision to reject United's offer emerged this week and Grayson expressed disappointment at the failure to keep the progress of discussions confidential.
United's manager also warned Johnson – a 250,000 signing from Northampton Town in 2008 – to think carefully before rejecting further contracts tabled by Leeds but he is hopeful that continuing talks might bring about a resolution.
Grayson said: "We're in negotiations with four players but contracts never take a few days to do – they can take a long time because there's a balance to be found between what the footballer wants and what the club can offer.
"Some negotiations are closer than others. Bradley's people have decided that the contract on offer to him isn't suitable but as a football club we've got to do what's right for us as well.
"This is the way the Bosman ruling works. Players have the right to let their contracts run down. We've benefited from it in the past with players coming here. But as a player you have to be careful. If you turn a contract down, are you going to get anything better elsewhere? That's the risk you run.
"Negotiations are ongoing – it hasn't been put to bed and it's not dead and buried. You just like to think that these things can be kept in-house and done quietly. Whether Bradley's representatives have put it out there or it's leaked out (by accident), it should be kept private."