Leeds United: Whites ‘sat on £30m of offers’ says Evans

Sam Byram
Sam Byram
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Leeds United head coach Steve Evans claimed the club were sitting on £30m-worth of bids for their players after a week of intense speculation about young midfielder Lewis Cook.

Evans’ extraordinary comment - made at the end of Saturday’s FA Cup win over Rotherham United - came with fresh insistence that Leeds were not inclined to accept any of the offers, despite the sums of money involved.

The United boss refused to identified the players being targeted but academy products Cook and Sam Byram have both attracted firm interest in the days either side of the transfer window opening.

Byram, whose contract ends in the summer, is on the radar of several Premier League clubs including West Ham United and Everton.

Cook, 18, has been the subject of repeated enquiries by Bournemouth, though the south-coast club are not believed to have matched his valuation.

Leeds are ready to sell Byram after failing to agree an extension to his contract but both Evans and club owner Massimo Cellino were categoric last week in insisting that Cook would not be leaving Elland Road before the January window closes.

Both players featured in Saturday’s third-round tie against Rotherham, Cook as a substitute, and Bournemouth’s attention was elsewhere over the weekend as the club worked to finalise a fee for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ striker Benik Afobe, reported to be worth around £10m.

The past seven days have also seen Italian Serie A club Verona linked with a multi-million pound move for centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci and indications that striker Mirco Antenucci is looking for a return to Italy.

Evans said: “I think it’s in excess of £30m, the offers on the table for different players. If it was that for one player then I’d probably get the order to drive him there but it isn’t.

“I was with the president (on Friday night), we sat down for a coffee and we’re not selling anyone as we sit here.

“I’ve always been a believer that everyone has a price. Cristiano Ronaldo has a price. Gareth Bale has a price. But the president says we’re not going to be doing it unless someone reaches a figure he thinks is in the interests of the club. I don’t ask people to defend him but a lot of owners would have been selling these players for that money.

“If you totalled it up and there was a fire sale at Elland Road tomorrow, that (£30m) is the type of money you’d be talking.”

Elland Road is yet to see any high-profiles departures this month but Evans concluded two incoming deals last week, extending Liam Bridcutt’s loan from Sunderland and signing Mustapha Carayol on a temporary basis from Middlesbrough.

Carayol marked his debut on Saturday with a sensational opening goal against Rotherham.

Evans is in the market for a new centre-back and at least one striker but his plans to sign Kyle Lafferty from Norwich City look increasingly unlikely due to a refusal by Norwich to consider loaning the Northern Ireland international out.

City’s manager, Alex Neil, confirmed on Saturday that Norwich would only listen to offers to take Lafferty, 28, on a permanent basis. Leeds are unwilling to discuss a full-time deal and Evans indicated that he was not prepared to wait for the situation to change.

“This club doesn’t wait on Alex Neil,” Evans said. “Alex is the manager of Norwich, a man I’ve got a great relationship with, and he’s made the Norwich viewpoint clear. I’ve made clear the Leeds United viewpoint.

“Unless that changes we will pursue others. We’re in talks about two other strikers and if we got those particular strikers there would be no room for Kyle Lafferty.”