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Leeds United: Warnock and board forced to re-evaluate January transfer strategy

DEAL DONE: Despite missing out on several targets, Neil Warnock has wrapped up the permanent signing of midfielder Michael Tonge.

DEAL DONE: Despite missing out on several targets, Neil Warnock has wrapped up the permanent signing of midfielder Michael Tonge.

  • by Phil Hay
 

Neil Warnock and Leeds United’s board were re-evaluating their January transfer strategy today after reaching dead-ends with a spate of approaches for potential signings.

Warnock was due to meet chief executive Shaun Harvey this afternoon to discuss the club’s next move following “seven or eight” unsuccessful enquiries for players on their list of targets.

Leeds completed their second permanent signing of the January window yesterday when midfielder Michael Tonge moved to Elland Road from Stoke City on a two-and-a-half year deal but Warnock admitted to a feeling of urgency after failing to make more progress in the first 10 days of the month.

Tonge’s arrival was widely expected on the back of his recent loan with Leeds, and a £150,000 deal for Ryan Hall – completed on January 1 – was initially agreed with Hall came to Yorkshire on a temporary basis from Southend United in October.

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Warnock has listed a new striker as one of his priorities this month, with Nottingham Forest’s Dexter Blackstock among the options initially identified, and he was promised financial support in the window by GFH Capital, the firm which bought United from chairman Ken Bates three weeks ago.

But Warnock said: “I’ve already spoken about seven or eight players and quite honestly they’re not for sale, no matter agents telling me that they’re all available.

“The agents are saying ‘he’s available, he’ll cost you this’ yet when I go and speak to the managers, none of them are available – seven or eight players on my list and not one of them’s available. The clubs won’t let any of them go. That shows you how difficult it’s going to be.

“We’re having a meeting (today) specifically to go over one or two things. That’s the way forward. We’ve got to come up with people who are available or who we can get with a transfer fee. The meeting was planned a week ago and we’re trying to push on with our targets now and see if we can get some over the line.

“I’ve spoken to Premier League managers and one in the Championship. Sometimes it’s like a domino effect. I had one who said they might consider the striker I was after but not until they got someone in to replace him. They weren’t doing very well on that front.

“I’m waking up in the morning and thinking about it and last thing at night as well before I go to bed. The transfer window’s a nightmare for managers.”

Asked if he felt that his dealings were in hand, Warnock said: “Not really. I’m not saying the players I spoke about were our number-one targets but they were on our list and we’ve crossed them off now.

“You have agents ringing you all the time but you really have to go to the top and ask the managers. Because as I’ve found out already, the players who are supposed to be available aren’t available.”

United’s deal with Tonge, however, came in time for the midfielder to return to their squad for tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby at Barnsley.

Leeds have paid a nominal, undisclosed fee to Stoke City for a player who made 22 consecutive appearances after moving to Elland Road on an emergency loan in September.

Warnock said: “He’s good on the ball and he gives us options down the left-hand side too.

“From his performances I think people can see why I signed him in the first place and why I wanted to bring him back.”

 

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