The situation with El-Hadji Diouf’s contract probably sounds quite simple.
He’s on x-amount of money at Leeds United and now he’s asking for y.
Neil Warnock wants to keep him so, on the assumption that Diouf’s demands are fair and reasonable, you’d expect a deal to be done.
But as anyone who follows the club knows, the situation at Elland Road is less than straightforward. Diouf isn’t the only person wanting to get his future sorted.
Leeds are on the verge of a takeover and until that deal goes through, a number of things are likely to remain on hold.
The club obviously want Diouf to stay, hence why an improved contract was offered to him last month. If, for instance, the new deal ran until the end of this season then I’d see that as a reasonable offer – reasonable in the circumstances.
I don’t see how Leeds can make a more serious commitment at a time when new owners might be taking over.
It appears that the long-awaited takeover deal is very close and it’s possible that the prospective buyers will make Diouf’s contract their first priority if and when they step through the door. They’d be in control of the club and it would be their decision.
But is it right to burden them with an expensive, long-term contract which was agreed a few days or weeks before the takeover was done? I don’t think it is.
New owners will have their own vision of the future and, presumably funds to give the manager. Who knows how much that could change the plans for January or alter Neil’s list of targets!
For now I hope Diouf can be a little patient while all this sorts itself out. I can’t criticise his contribution at Elland Road.
He’s been excellent in his short time here and the squad would be weaker without him.
At this stage he’s not a player we can afford to lose.
And if other clubs are interested in him then I’m not really surprised.
He’s got rare ability at this level – great touch and a really good reading of the game. I think we’ve also discovered that his famous temperament is less of a problem than some would have you believe.
Diouf’s a fiery character, I’ll agree, but he generally keeps his temper in check.
The fact that Neil has made an offer to him should tell Diouf that there’s a genuine will on the club’s part to commit.
But at the moment, we’re all waiting for a decision one way or another on what the outcome of this takeover bid will be.
Neil’s position is actually no different to Diouf’s. All he can do right now is go with the flow and wait for developments.
I’m sure that he knows who he wants to sign in January but the situation at Elland Road means he can’t yet be sure how the transfer window will pan out.
Without question it’s difficult and fairly frustrating – for Neil, for Diouf and for the supporters. No doubt the two sides negotiating the takeover are really keen to bring their talks to a conclusion.
Only then will any of us know what the future holds.