Leeds United aware of transfer interest from Italy in teen with position cover key consideration

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Leeds United are aware of transfer interest from Italy in left-sided defender Leo Hjelde.

With Junior Firpo still out injured, Hjelde is one of the only two fit options for Daniel Farke at left-back and the Whites are not presently open to his departure so a move is not considered to be imminent.

Leeds added free agent Sam Byram to their ranks this summer and the former Thorp Arch academy graduate is currently battling it out with Hjelde for the starting role at left-back. Although Byram was among the substitutes for the Championship opener against Cardiff City and the EFL Cup win over Shrewsbury, he replaced Hjelde at the interval on both occasions. Farke went with Byram from the start at Birmingham City on Saturday.

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Hjelde came to the club as a centre-back in August 2021 from Celtic, having gained senior experience out on loan with Ross County, where he earned rave reviews from manager John Hughes. January brought a loan move to Rotherham United and the Norwegian youth international featured 13 times in the Championship, predominantly at left-back. Millers boss Matt Taylor told the YEP last season that he felt Hjelde was not yet physically ready to be a central defender in the Championship but a move inside from full-back would be in his future.

"He's not a centre-back yet," said Taylor.

"I expect that when he gets to the middle part of his career he'll be able to play in the middle of the pitch. In relation to the Championship and the physical nature of the opposition centre-forwards and the physical nature of it he's not there as yet. He will probably play the majority of his career in a more central position. For ourselves, left-back definitely suits him. The left of a back three would suit him, as would left wing-back. He needs to be more on the outside just to offset a bit of the crash, bang, wallop which happens in the middle of every single game in the middle of every single pitch at Championship level."

This week reports have emerged of continued interest from Serie A side Salernitana, who have previously been linked with Hjelde during this transfer window. Hjelde, still only 19, is not among those with relegation release clauses in his contract.

Farke spoke before the season began of the need to strengthen in the full-back positions and Leeds attempted to bring Max Aaron to the club last week before Bournemouth hijacked the deal at the last minute.