Leeds United: Mac’s on the transfer trail

DOWN TO BUSINESS: Brian McDermott pictured after the Leeds United press conference at Thorp Arch.
DOWN TO BUSINESS: Brian McDermott pictured after the Leeds United press conference at Thorp Arch.
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Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has confirmed he is fairly well ‘down the line’ regarding the capture of one of his January transfer targets – and wants to do all of his incoming recruitment sooner rather than later next month.

The transfer window opens tomorrow and United are being strongly linked with a move for Hull City winger Cameron Stewart, whose loan spell at Charlton is due to end after their New Year’s Day clash at Ipswich Town.

Stewart will be out of contract in the summer with the 22-year-old recently acknowledging that his days at the KC Stadium are virtually numbered, with the Mancunian effectively on the look-out for a new club.

Charlton would ideally like to keep the wingman, but it is thought finances could be an issue.

McDermott revealed he spoke to one target and his agent yesterday, having given the club a list of four transfer targets.

But one name on his wish-list has been chalked off, with the player set to join a Premier League club instead.

Confirming he spoke to an unnamed player and agent yesterday, McDermott – whose side start 2014 at home to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow afternoon –said: “They (club owners) told me to have that conversation and I think what I have to do is try and line things up first and then go to the owners and say: ‘Look, this is what we have to do, can we do this deal?’ That’s what I’ve done in the past.

“I have had a conversation (with another target) and that’s not going to happen. He’s going to go to the Premier League apparently, so that’s that.

“There’s a couple of players who we would (also) have to do deals with, with other clubs and then you would have to go from there. That’s where we are at and I’d like to think things will hopefully fall into place.

“Transfer deadline day right at the end (of January) is exciting, but it doesn’t do it for me. I’d rather it was done and dusted beforehand and I think it’s important to try and get players in as early as you can. I’m not one for trying to get one done, so Sky Sports can do a big piece on it at midnight.

“With one particular one, we think we are fairly down the line. That’s a start.”

One player who has also been linked with a return to United is former fans favourite Max Gradel, currently at St Etienne.

McDermott acknowledges he has monitored the form of Gradel, 26, but he will not be pursuing his signing on sentiment alone and will only do so if it is right for the club, with several factors to consider.

He said: “I think with Max Gradel, it’s going to be an expensive deal. He was very good for Leeds United two-and-a-half years ago. But you can’t sign a player on the back of what happened then – that’s wrong.

“I’ve got a scout in France who has seen him play a few times so I have done my homework on that situation.

“I know how many games he’s played and goals he’s scored and how many times he’s come off the bench. (But) I wouldn’t just do a deal because he was a favourite at Leeds. It needs to be the right player for now at this time. That’s not to say Max wouldn’t be that player, it’s just we need to make sure my homework is right and everything is in the right order because it won’t be a cheap deal.”

McDermott admits he is unsure about the availability of another Elland Road old boy linked with a return to the club earlier this season in Luciano Becchio, firmly down the pecking order at Norwich City.

McDermott said: “He plays for someone else and I wouldn’t know if he’s available or not. We’ll see.”

Stewart is expected to return north after his four-month stint at Charlton ends tomorrow, having also spent spells on loan at Burnley and Blackburn last season. Speaking about his future just before Christmas, the ex-Manchester United winger said: “My contract is coming to an end at Hull and once it ends that will be it.

“I had a great time at Hull and it’s great to see them doing well in the Premier League. But if there was any chance of them extending my deal, then I’m sure I’d have heard something by now.

“At the moment, I’m going to have to find a new job, so it is about playing as well as I can and scoring as many goals as I can because I’m in the shop window.”

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