Leeds United were working towards a double signing today after manager Brian McDermott moved to reunite himself with winger Jimmy Kebe.
United are hoping to pull off a deal to bring Kebe to Elland Road from Crystal Palace amid ongoing attempts to finalise the signing of Hull City’s Cameron Stewart.
Stewart underwent a medical at Thorp Arch last night and was expected to confirm his transfer to Leeds this morning, joining the club on a 93-day loan.
Football League rules banning players from appearing for three English clubs in one season – a rule which exempts emergency loans – are preventing Leeds from handing Stewart an immediate permanent contract.
The 22-year-old played for Hull in the League Cup earlier this term and ended a half-season loan at Charlton Athletic on New Year’s Day but his temporary switch to United is likely to give him the guarantee of a long-term switch when his deal at Hull expires in the summer.
Stewart’s arrival will help to solve a chronic shortage of wingers at Elland Road, and United’s attempt to land Kebe – a Championship title-winner under McDermott at Reading – is a major statement of intent.
Several other Championship clubs, Leicester City and Brighton among them, have enquired about the Mali international but Leeds are hopeful of adding him to their squad before Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield Wednesday.
Kebe signed for Reading in 2008 after being scouted by McDermott in France and he thrived under the 52-year-old’s management at the Madejski Stadium.
He moved to Palace in September of this year following McDermott’s dismissal and Reading’s relegation from the Premier League but Kebe played just six times for the South London club before the start of the January window and has made no impression under new Palace manager Tony Pulis.
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish denied that a deal was done last night but said: “Leeds are interested – all the clubs at the top of the Championship are interested.
“We haven’t considered whether he’s going to go out on loan or if we’re going to accept (a bid).”
McDermott spoke of his admiration for Kebe in February, prior to his sacking by Reading, saying: “I’ve known him a long time. I scouted him from France.
“We have a good partnership. I know what makes him tick and he really does help me and the team. He’s a team man.”
The prospect of two deals is the first indication of funding on offer from Sport Capital, the group who aim to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds and are already funding the club’s operations ahead of their takeover.
The consortium includes United managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, a senior executive at Leeds shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance. Their buy-out is dependent on Football League approval.
Meanwhile, United’s game at Middlesbrough on February 22 has been moved to 12.15pm kick-off to allow for a live broadcast by Sky Sports.