Leeds United finally making progress in talks with Celtic for young defender
Leeds United have made progress in their attempt to sign teenage defender Leo Hjelde from Celtic.
A centre-half with first team experience in the Scottish Premiership thanks to a loan spell with Ross County last season, Hjelde was identified as a candidate for the centre-half vacancy in Mark Jackson's Under 23s side.
Left-footed Hjelde, who turns 18 later this month, would fill the void left by Oliver Casey who moved permanently to Blackpool from Elland Road this summer. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported Leeds' interest in the son of former Nottingham Forest defender Jon Olav back in June and negotiations between the two clubs have finally progressed after weeks of stalemate, allowing the Whites to move closer to a deal.
Hjelde, who was involved in a number of first team pre-season friendlies, has found himself playing in the Celtic B team now that the season is underway north of the border, captaining the side for their last two Scottish Lowland Football League games. The side are due to play tonight against Annan Athletic in the SPFL Trust Trophy.
The 17-year-old joined the Hoops from Rosenborg two years ago, signing a three-year deal, and headed out on loan to Ross County in January, starting seven times and scoring once.
He showed versatility for the Staggies, featuring at centre-half, left-back and left midfield, and earned rave reviews for his performances with boss John Hughes declaring him the 'next Virgil Van Dijk.'
Hjelde has played international youth football for Norway at Under 18 level and scored in a friendly defeat by Portugal earlier this summer. He is said to be good in the air and positive with his passing from the back.
Leeds have already added to Jackson's squad with the signing of midfielders Lewis Bate from Chelsea and Sean McGurk from Wigan Athletic, along with winger Amari Miller from Birmingham City. Hjelde's fellow Celtic defender Matthew Anderson, an Under 18s player, was another name on Leeds' list this summer and the Yorkshire Evening Post understands their initial interest was rejected by the Hoops.