Liam Bridcutt is ready to commit his immediate future to Leeds United with the club working to finalise a rapid extension of his loan from Sunderland to the end of the season.
Bridcutt’s initial spell at Elland Road ended after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with MK Dons but Leeds expect Sunderland to honour an unwritten agreement between the clubs for Bridcutt to remain in Yorkshire until the Championship term concludes in May.
The midfielder joined Leeds in the last week of November and has been highly influential in his short period with the club, contributing to an unbeaten run which extended to seven games on Saturday.
United head coach Steve Evans said a fresh deal for Bridcutt was the “first one I want in the door” during a January transfer window in which he hopes to sign up to four new players and Bridcutt appears willing to take up the offer, despite suggestions that his former club Brighton will bid to sign him permanently this month.
The 26-year-old said it was “time to move on from Sunderland” after 18 mixed months with the Premier League side and claimed his time with Leeds had returned him “to my normal self”.
“This officially was my last game,” Bridcutt said after making his eighth appearance against MK Dons. “I’m hoping to extend it to the end of the season and I want to extend it. Leeds want me here and it’s just waiting on Sunderland.
“For me, game time is the most important thing. The manager (Evans) has been brilliant with me and given me a great opportunity to play. You can see that when I’m playing I’m back to my normal self.
“It’s about time for me to move on from Sunderland and I want a new challenge.
“I never really fell out of love with (football) but at Sunderland I was treated poorly. I’ve come here, the manager has treated me well and so have the players and the fans.”
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce admitted last month that he would prefer to negotiate a deal to sign Bridcutt permanently, raising transfer funds for him in the process.
Evans, however, has long maintained that a “gentleman’s agreement” was in place to keep Bridcutt at Elland Road and he confirmed after the clash with MK Dons that a second loan was close.
“The first one I want in the door is Liam Bridcutt,” Evans said. “It’ll be a loan deal, that’s the agreement, and the one thing I know about Sam Allardyce is that he’d rather cut his nose off than not keep to his word.
“The one thing I know about Sunderland is that they’ve intimated they’ll be doing that.
“Until it’s done you can never count on it but that would be a positive for us. Liam’s 100 per cent sure he wants to stay so that’s good. I want to add two or three around him so I can have the team I want.”
Asked if he would listen to rivals’ offers, Bridcutt said: “When you’re playing well you’re always open to options. For me it’s got to be the right one. At the minute, it’s proving to be (right at Leeds).”