Lewis Baker’s loan at Leeds United could reach an abrupt end in the coming days amid claims that Chelsea are preparing to terminate their agreement with the Elland Road club.
Leeds are yet to be notified of Chelsea’s intention to recall Baker six months into a season-long loan but the midfielder looks likely to return to Stamford Bridge in the January window following a disappointing spell in Yorkshire.
Baker became the first signing of the Marcelo Bielsa era when he joined United last June but he has made no impression under the Argentinian coach and was substituted at half-time during his only league starts against Reading and Bolton Wanderers.
Leeds were not seeking to send Baker back to London in this transfer window despite his peripheral role but Chelsea, who have a policy of reassessing season-long loans in January, are reportedly keen to take the opportunity to send him out to another club.
United are the fifth side where Baker has spent time on loan and the 23-year-old came to Elland Road in search of regular football after making just six league starts during a full year at Middlesbrough last season.
Bielsa, though, has used him sporadically, including one outing in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Queens Park Rangers.
While Baker’s involvement at Leeds has been limited, his recall by Chelsea would further reduce Bielsa’s already thin options in midfield.
United allowed Samuel Saiz to leave on loan for Getafe last month after being told by the Spaniard that he was unhappy in England and the wait for Izzy Brown - another loanee from Chelsea - to break into Bielsa’s first team after ACL surgery has been lengthened again by a hamstring strain.
Leeds are believed to be open to the possibility of recruiting another number 10 in this window, alongside the winger and goalkeeper which Bielsa highlighted the need for last week.
Their interest in Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow is diminishing, however, with Newcastle holding out for a fee of £4m and the YEP understands that Leeds do not intend to bring in Dutchman Michel Vorm, despite Tottenham Hotspur offering the 35-year-old on loan.