Leeds United striker Ross McCormack put pen-to-paper on a new contract as manager Neil Warnock insisted: “I never wanted him to leave.”
McCormack has agreed a three-year deal at Elland Road, committing himself to the club just hours before the start of the new Championship season.
Warnock said the announcement was a “shot in the arm” ahead of today’s opening league game against Wolverhampton Wanderers and admitted United had been set on securing his future before the campaign began.
McCormack’s decision to accept a fresh deal ends an uncertain summer in which he seemed destined to leave Elland Road after rejecting a previous contract offer in May.
Leeds began listening to offers for him with his previous deal due to expire next summer but they resumed negotiations with his representatives late last month as Warnock fought to prevent further losses from his squad in the wake of the sale of Robert Snodgrass to Norwich City.
Warnock told the YEP: “I never wanted him to leave and Ross has known that for a long time.
“He’s a talented player and a special player, someone who I think can score 20 goals for us this season. If he scores 20 goals then we’ll do well. It was so important to keep him here.
“Things were a bit uncertain earlier in the summer with his contract running down but the club have worked so hard on this deal and a lot of credit has to go to Shaun Harvey (United’s chief executive).
“I wanted this done before the Wolves game and I’ve not been disappointed.
“It’s such a big lift at the right time.”
McCormack – signed by Leeds from Cardiff City in August 2010 – finished last season as United’s top scorer, recovering from a quiet first year at Elland Road to score 19 times.
He decision to turn down a new deal in May attracted a bid from Crystal Palace and further interest from Huddersfield Town and Bristol City but Warnock grew increasingly reluctant to sell him as pre-season wore on.
McCormack, who turned 26 today (August 18), has enjoyed a productive week, returning to the Scotland fold on Wednesday night and scoring in a friendly against Australia before returning to Leeds to sign his new deal.
The striker said: “This was what I always wanted to do. It’s perfect timing with the first game of the season being (today) and it’s my birthday as well.”
Warnock said: “He’s got a great chance to thrive here now and a chance to really enjoy the season.
“There were times when I think the whole contract business got to him a bit but it’s done and dusted now. He’s got what he wanted and we’ve given him what he deserved. It’s a real shot in the arm for us.”
United are set to release a fringe member of their squad with right-back Paul Connolly in line to join League One club Portsmouth on loan. Connolly has been on the transfer list all summer but is available to sign after a hernia operation.
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