Leeds United will hold fresh contract talks with Tom Pearce this week amid sudden talk of Premier League interest in their promising left-back.
United are attempting to strike an agreement over an increased wage for Pearce after the 20-year-old broke into their first team in the closing weeks of the Championship season.
Pearce made five appearances in the last two months of the term and scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 win over Barnsley at Elland Road on April 21.
His contract, however, expires at the end of June and Leeds’ failure to finalise an early extension to that deal has made them vulnerable to outside interest.
United are ready to tie the defender to a longer-term package with an improved salary but have yet to meet Pearce’s demands. Further discussions are scheduled to take place this week with a view to resolving his future before the start of the transfer window.
Pearce - a former Everton academy player who Leeds picked up after he was released as a 16-year-old - signed a 12-month deal with United last summer, his second professional contract.
Under EFL rules, United would be entitled to compensation if the defender chose to move elsewhere this summer, provided the club make a contract offer matching his existing terms.
Everton and Bournemouth were linked with him over the weekend, though Leeds are understood to have received no contact from Goodison Park or Dean Court.
Pearce is the only member of United’s first-team squad whose deal expires this summer. Leeds removed the threat of player-of-the-year Pablo Hernandez departing on a free transfer by finalising a new two-year deal with him two weeks ago.
The club, meanwhile, are yet to commit to the signing of Jerry Mbakogu despite reports that a deal had been done to bring the forward to England.
Nigeria-born Mbakogu, who is on the books of Italian Serie B side Carpi, has been on Leeds’ radar since January and recently secured Italian citizenship, allowing him to move to the Championship without the need for a work permit.
United opened negotiations with Carpi at the turn of the year and have agreed an option to sign Mbakogu for a fee in excess of £3m but the Elland Road club are still to formally activate it.
Mbakogu - represented by Football Capital, the agency which Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani held shares in prior to his buy-out of United - has scored just six goals in 25 appearances this season.