Leeds United’s pursuit of Samuel Saiz stumbles along as Diagouraga stays to fight for place

Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagouraga.
Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagouraga.
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SAMUEL SAIZ will travel home from a holiday in Miami on Sunday with the aim of finally sealing a protracted move to Leeds United.

Saiz is spending this week in the USA following drawn-out talks between Leeds and Huesca about a transfer to Elland Road but he will return to Spain in 72 hours’ time in the hope that a deal will follow.

United have been on the trail of Saiz since the end of the Spanish season and the attacking midfielder is still a prominent target for United despite their failure to wrap up a quick agreement.

Their talks with Huesca moved closer to a successful conclusion last week but the delay in finalising a move prompted Saiz to depart on holiday over the weekend.

The 27-year-old’s season ended less than three weeks ago after Huesca advanced to the Spanish second division play-offs. Saiz made his last appearance of the campaign in a 3-0 defeat to Getafe on June 17, a result which ended Huesca’s bid for promotion to La Liga. Leeds stepped up their interest after that match, challenging Eibar for his signature and moving to the front of a group of clubs vying to sign him.

The transfer has required complex negotiations owing to the terms of the contract signed by Saiz when he left Atletico Madrid for Huesca in 2016, a deal which saw Atletico retain economic rights to him. Sources close to Saiz, however, say he remains keen to join United and Leeds have not given up on the £3m deal.

The planned recruitment of more midfielders, following on from the signing of Poland international Mateusz Klich from FC Twente, will increase numbers in an already competitive area of head coach Thomas Christiansen’s squad.

Leeds allowed Luke Murphy to return to Burton Albion on a season-long loan on Monday having deemed him surplus to requirements but Klich, Liam Bridcutt, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips all featured in yesterday’s behind-closed-doors friendly against Harrogate Town at Thorp Arch.

Republic of Ireland international Eunan O’Kane was left out after making a belated return to training on Monday after his honeymoon.

Fellow midfielder Toumani Diagouraga completed the first half against Harrogate at centre-back – a repeat of the role he was given in pre-season 12 months ago – but the YEP understands that the former Brentford player, who finished last season on loan with Ipswich Town, intends to fight for a place at Leeds this summer following the resignation of former head coach Garry Monk.

Monk sent Diagouraga to train with Leeds’ Under-23s after he struggled in a 3-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers on the first weekend of the 2016-17 campaign. Diagouraga did not feature under Monk again and was allowed to join Ipswich in January.

Diagouraga was a £575,000 signing while Steve Evans was first-team boss in January 2016 but he is already less than 12 months away from the end of his contract. He has played just 20 times for the club since leaving Griffin Park.

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