Leeds United are moving towards an agreement over a new contract for Pablo Hernandez after resolving to keep the Spanish midfielder.
Hernandez is wanted by head coach Paul Heckingbottom next season and has opened formal talks with Leeds over an extension to a deal which expires in June.
The 32-year-old’s future has been in doubt since he admitted recently that he was yet to receive the offer of new terms from the board at Elland Road.
Leeds have retained Hernandez on short-term contracts ever since signing him form Qatari club Al-Arabi in August 2016 and the club were in two minds over whether to tie him down for a third season with the former Valencia player due to turn 33 next month.
Hernandez, however, has been an influential figure in a disappointing season for Leeds, scoring seven goals in all competitions and producing the same number of assists.
The responsibility for creativity fell onto his shoulders in January after Samuel Saiz, United’s other number 10, was banned for six matches for spitting during an FA Cup third-round defeat to Newport County.
Heckingbottom, who took charge of Leeds at the start of last month, has been non-committal in response to questions about whether he wanted Hernandez to remain with the club next season but he in understood to have told the club that the midfielder is part of his plans.
United’s boss talked up Hernandez’s performance 10 days ago, after the midfielder scored in a 2-2 draw at Reading, saying: “Pablo’s been one of the best performers for me when I’ve had him available. The priority is keeping him fit between now and the end of the season, to give him the best chance to help us and help himself in terms of his contract.”
Birmingham City - managed by Garry Monk, the coach who brought Hernandez to Leeds and worked with him at Swansea City - were linked with a move for the midfielder over the weekend but are yet to draw up serious transfer plans with their Championship status still at risk.
Hernandez’s wife is currently pregnant and planning to return to Spain during the summer but he has already voiced his intention to win a new deal at Leeds.
Speaking earlier this month, Hernandez said: “I’m very happy here. I feel the fans and my team-mates, all the people, would like it is I stay here but it depends not only on me.”