Leeds United and defender set for January transfer window parting as decision fails to pay off

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Leeds United and Cody Drameh appear destined for a parting of ways in the January transfer window.

Considered by Leeds to be among those for whom they will be open to permanent offers, Drameh is keen to play football at a more suitable level than the Premier League 2's second tier he has been gracing with the Under 21s. Both parties are making the kind of noises that only require a serious third party to translate them into a transfer.

A little over 19 months remain on his Elland Road contract and there appears to be little to no chance of the player agreeing to an extension that may have once been on the table, but is clearly no longer.

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Two years and three months have passed since the young right-back made his way up the M1 from Craven Cottage to Elland Road.

Seen as an exciting prospect by Fulham, Drameh was convinced that a move to Leeds represented a clearer pathway to senior football. Marcelo Bielsa's fondness for making the Under 23s part of his training plans at Thorp Arch and a willingness to stack his bench with them, not to mention the transformation of players like Kalvin Phillips, played well for the Whites when recruiting in that period.

Drameh, though, made the bench just once in the Premier League during his first season and although he was named in the top flight matchday squad 10 times last term and got his first start under Bielsa, the presence of Luke Ayling and Start Dallas made game time almost as hard to come by.

Not only that, when Bielsa was more content to use a central midfielder - Jamie Shackleton - at right-back than put Drameh into the team, the pathway looked a lot less clear.

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That was what led Drameh to request a loan move in January, which evidently did not sit well with the head coach.

HEADING OUT - Cody Drameh looks set for a January exit from Leeds United having had to settle for Under 21s and Papa John's Trophy football so far this season. Pic: GettyHEADING OUT - Cody Drameh looks set for a January exit from Leeds United having had to settle for Under 21s and Papa John's Trophy football so far this season. Pic: Getty
HEADING OUT - Cody Drameh looks set for a January exit from Leeds United having had to settle for Under 21s and Papa John's Trophy football so far this season. Pic: Getty

"In a situation when opportunities for youngsters have increased, Drameh would prefer to experiment outside our team - clearly, I calculated things wrongly because what I consider as a great opportunity, those who are benefiting from that position, they prefer to abandon the club looking for another type of competition," said Bielsa.

"Evidently, what I imagined as a great chance, they don't. Perhaps I overvalue that you're in a 20-man squad in the best league in the world."

It was strong stuff from the Argentine but there still existed within sections of the club's fanbase a feeling that Drameh was doing the right thing, and his impressive spell at Cardiff City only enhanced that feeling.

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Yet when he returned in the summer, the picture remained foggy. With Stuart Dallas sustaining a long-term injury and Luke Ayling completing post-surgery rehabilitation, Drameh was briefly bumped up the pecking order, until Rasmus Kristensen arrived.

Even with Dallas and Ayling unable to start the season, spending £10m on a right-back reduced the likelihood of Leeds being ready or willing to offer Drameh much in the way of game time.

There was interest in the summer, with a host of Championship clubs joining suitors on the continent in asking questions over the 20-year-old's availability but right at the end of the window, when Jesse Marsch suggested a move could be possible, it was Drameh who decided against it.

Whatever it was that convinced him there was a chance with Leeds, the decision hasn't paid off. There was always the possibility that Kristensen might pick up a knock in that spell before Ayling was ready to rejoin the fray, and indeed the Dane did, but the reward for Drameh was a mere 70 minutes of Premier League football at Brentford.

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Ayling's return has put Drameh back behind two senior options and left him playing Papa John's Trophy, PL2 and EFL Cup football - at least in round one. When asked of Drameh's whereabouts for the second round tie at Wolves, Marsch revealed the plan had been to use him until Drameh 'said he felt he was injured.' Regardless, the sum total of Drameh's involvement thus far this season has not been sufficient to justify staying put beyond January.

His camp say clubs like Newcastle United and Dortmund are seriously taking a look at him, while Leeds expect renewed interest from Germany, Holland and the domestic market. Both sides anticipate movement in the window.

The shame of it all is that Drameh clearly possesses talent - his debut season under Mark Jackson in the Under 23s was nothing short of stellar and showcased an uncanny knack for one-v-one defending.

At Cardiff, Drameh impressed again and proved himself ready for men's football at 20 years of age. The Premier League is a different animal but Drameh's potential cannot be doubted. He simply needs to play at a better level on a more frequent basis to stand a chance of realising it. That's not going to happen at Leeds, where it just isn't working out and whatever the reasons for that, he'll try to make it work elsewhere.