Brian McDermott claimed Leeds United had secured Ross McCormack for the “peak years of his footballing life” after the striker signed a new contract at Elland Road.
McCormack drew speculation about his future to a close last night by accepting an improved four-year deal and committing himself to Leeds until 2017. The agreement ended an anxious spell in which United opened talks with the Scotland international following three bids for him from Middlesbrough and one from Blackpool.
Leeds rejected all four offers – the most recent from Boro worth a fee in excess of £1.5million – and moved to conclude negotiations with his representatives ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline.
McDermott, who insisted from the outset that McCormack would not be sold in the summer window, said United’s board had invested wisely in a prime asset by handing McCormack a long-term deal at the age of 27.
The Leeds manager said: “They’ve turned down substantial offers for him and ensured that we retain his services in what will be the peak years of his footballing life. I’m delighted.”
McCormack’s value has been highlighted by his form in the opening month of the season and a return of four goals from five starts which left United undefeated ahead of today’s game against Queens Park Rangers.
The former Rangers and Cardiff City forward consistently stated that he had no interest in leaving Elland Road before the September 2 deadline and admitted a fortnight ago that any deal to sell him would be struck against his will.
Speaking last night, McCormack said: “I’ve said all along that this club is where I want to be and where I want to play my football. My family are settled here, I love the place and I’m looking forward to the future.
“I’d like to thank the manager and the owners for showing faith in me and I’d like to say a big thank you to the fans because their support really is something special.
“They’re what the club are all about.”
Chants of “Ross McCormack is not for sale” were heard during Tuesday night’s League Cup tie at Doncaster Rovers - a match in which his penalty sealed a 3-1 win - and Leeds managing director David Haigh revealed that the demands from the terraces had encouraged the club’s directors to commit to an improved deal.
Boro’s third offer to Leeds was a final bid and the Teesside club had no intention of raising their valuation of McCormack but doubt about his situation persisted while contract talks remained unresolved.
“The interest in Ross has been very public and I’m sure this has been unsettling for the fans,” Haigh said. “They’ve been chanting ‘Ross McCormack is not for sale’ and how could we ignore that.
“He’s a key player for us and as a football club it’s important that we do our utmost to keep our key personnel and the players we believe will take us forward.”