Leeds United are set to step up their interest in Swansea City winger Daniel James with the January transfer window entering its final 10 days.
United’s focus on James was temporarily put on hold while they sealed the signing of goalkeeper Kiko Casilla from Real Madrid this week but the club are determined to land the 21-year-old winger before the window shuts and will attempt to reach an agreement over a fee with Swansea.
Leeds are yet to meet Swansea’s valuation but believe they have a strong chance of securing a player whose contract ends in 18 months’ time.
Swansea want in excess of £3m for James, who took his first steps in the Championship this season, and are reluctant to lose the talented Wales international.
James has been a regular part of manager Graham Potter’s squad and appeared as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, though, installed James as his top target amongst names put to him by the club’s director of football, Victor Orta, and Leeds are looking to make a breakthrough with Swansea before they visit Rotherham United on Saturday.
James discussed his future after City’s clash with Sheffield United, telling Wales Online he was still to be offered a contract extension.
“I haven’t heard anything yet but obviously I’ve just got to see if there’s an offer on the table,” James said. “I haven’t had one yet but I’m loving my football here.
“To me it (Leeds’ interest in him) is all just rumours. I see it on the Internet all the time and everyone is asking me.
“From my point of view there’s nothing concrete in it at all. Whenever anyone asks me I just laugh.”
Leeds have identified alternative options, including Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda, but any approach for O’Dowda is unlikely to be helped by City owner Steve Lansdown stating on Friday that he wanted Leeds to be hit with a points deduction over the ‘Spygate’ saga involving Bielsa.
The United boss wants at least one outfield addition to his squad having seen a new keeper arrive at the club on Thursday.
Spaniard Casilla signed a four-and-a-half year contract to complete a free transfer from the Bernabeu and he will bid for a starting place against Rotherham having sat on the bench during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke City.
Bielsa, whose selection issues have been rife all season, left Stoke with another concern after Pontus Jansson incurred a one-match ban for a red card in the second half.
The centre-back was harshly dismissed after receiving a second booking on 76 minutes but Leeds have no right of appeal against that decision and Jansson will serve a one-match ban when Leeds go to Rotherham.
Bielsa, though, could have two fresh options to partner Liam Cooper in the middle of his defence with Kalvin Phillips set to return from the three-match suspension and Gaetano Berardi on the verge of a comeback from a torn hamstring.
Berardi last played in October and has been limited to eight appearances all season but Bielsa plans to use him in an Under-23s Premier League Cup fixture against Southampton at Tadcaster Albion tomorrow tonight.
Izzy Brown could also feature in that tie following his brace in a development-squad win over Crewe last Monday.
The on-loan Chelsea midfielder’s return from a long-term ACL injury was delayed before Christmas by a pulled hamstring and he failed to make the bench against Stoke, despite Bielsa saying beforehand that Brown was fit.