Leeds United: New director Patel keen to keep hold of ‘key’ loan duo

Salem Patel.
Salem Patel.
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New Leeds United director Salem Patel has backed Neil Warnock’s decision to pursue the January signings of Jerome Thomas and Alan Tate, describing the pair as “key players”.

Patel, who along with David Haigh met with Warnock at Thorp Arch following the announcement of GFH Capital’s takeover yesterday, gave a clear indication of Leeds’ desire to keep Thomas and Tate as talks with the players’ parent clubs intensified.

United are understood to be willing to pay £250,000 to turn Tate’s loan from Swansea City into a permanent agreement next month and GFH Capital will support Warnock’s attempt to secure Thomas until the end of the season having witnessed the winger’s impact during his short spell with Leeds.

Thomas is due to return to West Bromwich Albion after United’s New Year’s Day game against Bolton Wanderers and Tate’s final appearance is also scheduled for January 1.

On-loan Stoke City midfielder Michael Tonge, meanwhile, was due to play for the last time against Middlesbrough today, three months after coming to Elland Road on an emergency basis.

Patel said: “Shaun (Harvey, United’s chief executive) is conducting negotiations as we speak but Thomas and Tate are two key players and we really hope to keep them. With Tonge, again we hope to keep him.”

Warnock has stated previously that he would willingly limit himself to signing a new striker in January if United find a way to retain their existing loanees.

Ryan Hall’s temporary move from Southend United will become permanent when Leeds pay a £150,000 fee next month and the agreement of an 18-month deal with El-Hadji Diouf on December 14 ended doubts about his future.

Harvey said: “Neil’s pretty clear on what it is that he’s seeking. That always helps.

“We know what we’ve got to try and deliver and with (GFH Capital) having just invested in the club, without making radical statements it should be consistent that we’re going to try and help him as far as we can. We’re keen to carry on what we’re doing and we’ve won four out of the last five league games so the formula would appear to be working.”

Warnock has been in contact with United’s new owners through the summer and he met with them at Thorp Arch following training yesterday morning.

United’s manager claimed promotion from the Championship was still attainable this season, saying: “From my own point of view it’s an opportunity and while we haven’t set the world alight, the opportunity’s still there.

“I’m not saying we’ve got to spend, spend, spend because we haven’t. We’ve got to adjust the squad to create more competition in certain areas. If we do that we’ll have a great chance this season.

“We don’t want to spend million and millions. We just need to bring the right players in. But there’s a bright future ahead.”