Kemar Roofe is waiting on the offer of a new contract from Leeds United as his current deal prepares to enter its last 12 months.
Leeds are yet to table a firm proposal to the striker, despite his contractual situation exposing the club to the risk of him leaving on a free transfer next summer.
United initially planned to speak with Roofe before Christmas and again after the closure of the January transfer window but discussions remained dormant until the end of the season with Roofe’s demands and the club’s valuation of him a distance apart.
Roofe came to Leeds from Oxford United in 2016, arriving from League Two during Massimo Cellino’s tenure as owner at Elland Road and at a time when the club’s wage bill was significantly lower.
Cellino made concerted efforts to cut the cost of salaries during his time in charge but wages have risen under Andrea Radrizzani and forward Patrick Bamford became one of the club’s highest earners when he arrived for £7m from Middlesbrough last July.
Roofe was first choice ahead of Bamford under Marcelo Bielsa and, having missed three months of the term through injury, finished as United’s top scorer with 15 goals.
He is expected to look for parity with Bamford after ranking amongst the most influential players during Bielsa’s first season as head coach but Leeds’ failure to win promotion to the Premier League will limit their ability to hike up existing salaries.
A failure to agree new terms with Roofe would leave United to contemplate the threat of the former League Two player of the year moving on for nothing at the end of next season, four years after Leeds spent £3m bringing him in from Oxford.
The club are expected to engage the 26-year-old in the weeks ahead but have spent the time since their loss in the Championship play-offs focusing on Bielsa’s own future.
Leeds were forced to sanction the £15m sale of Chris Wood to Burnley two years ago by Wood’s desire to leave and the realisation that allowing him to run closer to the end of his contract would diminish his resale value.
Roofe’s contractual position is one of the most pressing for Leeds in a squad where many of their prominent d members are under contract beyond the end of next term.
Pablo Hernandez has 12 months left but would receive an automatic 12-month extension if Leeds were promoted to the Premier League.
Mateusz Klich’s initial contract also runs to 2020, although the club have told the YEP previously that they have an option to retain him for an extra year. The Poland international was ever-present in the Championship, starting 46 league games and both legs of Leeds’ semi-final defeat to Derby County.
Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, winger Stuart Dallas and defender Gaetano Berardi are others who would be out of contract in 2020 as it stands.
Berardi, whose campaign ended with the seventh red card of his Leeds career during the second leg against Derby, was also first choice at the start of the campaign but saw injury sideline him for most of it.
Speaking to the BBC in March, at a stage when Leeds were competing for automatic promotion, Berardi said: “I’ve got one more year and I will probably speak with Victor (Orta), with Andrea (Radrizzani), after the season. I don’t know.
“It’s not my priority now. It’s not that I don’t want to stay but I’ve got something to do before.”
Leeds carried out a concerted drive to extend contracts during the 2017-18 season, including four-year deals handed to Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling and a five-year agreement reached with Pontus Jansson, and Kalvin Phillips is among the players who the club will attempt to tie down to improved terms.
Phillips has another two years to run but his form under Bielsa earned him a place in the EFL’s Championship team of the year and dramatically enhanced his reputation as a defensive midfielder.
Bournemouth – the club who snared Lewis Cook from Leeds in 2016 – were linked with Phillips over the weekend but Bielsa would want the 23-year-old to be central to his plans again if the Argentinian agrees to remain in his job as head coach.