Leeds United head coach Paul Heckingbottom admitted a contract agreement with Pablo Hernandez would not be a formality despite the club’s attempt to tie the midfielder to a new deal.
Leeds are in talks over an extension to a contract which expires in June after Heckingbottom told the board at Elland Road that Hernandez was part of his plans for next season.
Hernandez’s performances have caught Heckingbottom’s eye during the latter’s eight games in charge and the United boss is keen to end any doubt after the Spaniard’s future.
The absence of previous negotiations left Hernandez in the dark about whether Leeds would offer him a third season at Elland Road, despite his tally of seven goals and seven assists this term.
Hernandez turns 33 next month, however, his pregnant wife has now returned to Spain to give birth. Heckingbottom said the midfielder, who has already voiced a desire to stay at Elland Road, would look for “more than a contract offer on the table.”
“I’ve had a good chat with Pablo, about the football, himself, how I see him and the value that I think he adds to the squad,” Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Leeds. “Sort of capture his heart, if you like.
“Pablo’s had a great career and there's more important things to Pablo than the finances. Contract length would be one but there’s other things as well: his role within the team, his role within the squad, the type of football we want to play, his affection for the club. He always speaks highly of the club, the fans, Elland Road, and he wants to know the plans and what we want to do for next season.
“Pablo’s at the stage of his career where there’s a lot more to it than just a contract offer on the table. He wants to be excited about the last few years of his career. Hopefully we can get him excited and keep him.”
Hernandez has been at Leeds since completing an initial loan move from Qatari club Al-Arabi in August 2016. He is set to make his 75th appearance for the club against Bolton Wanderers next Friday.