With no new faces arriving at Leeds United this month, the biggest stories have been the departures from Elland Road. Spurs’ Djed Spence saw his loan move, which was meant to last the duration of the season, cut short by Daniel Farke, while fellow full-back Luke Ayling sealed a temporary exit to Middlesbrough.
Wilfried Gnonto seemed like he may end up following them out of the door after he submitted a transfer request in the summer and saw limited action in the first half of the season, but he’s now close to signing a new contract in West Yorkshire instead.
Leeds hoping to seal “excellent” signing before deadline day
Leeds United could boost their promotion chances with this January buy, with a move for David Brooks also on the agenda.
Instead, the last significant exit of the January window could come on the other side of defence, with Leo Hjelde now reportedly closing in on a move away.
Leeds reach Hjelde agreement
According to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, Leeds have now agreed a deal to sell Hjelde to Championship promotion rivals Sunderland, and he’ll travel to Wearside to undergo a medical.
It’s clear that the Norwegian has been “a long way from Farke’s plans”, and barring any physical issues or a disagreement on personal terms, he’ll swap the Whites for the Black Cats before Thursday’s deadline.
Hjelde exit seemed inevitable
Leeds signed Hjelde from Celtic in the summer of 2021, and he made his debut in an FA Cup third-round defeat to West Ham before featuring in a couple more games in the Premier League.
He didn’t take the step he may have anticipated last season, with his only action in the first half of the campaign coming in the League Cup, and Leeds decided to loan him to Championship Rotherham in the New Year. That proved to be a successful loan as he started 11 games to rack up some valuable senior experience and earned a “quality” appraisal from team-mate Richard Wood.
When Leeds were relegated, Hjelde may have hoped his newfound knowledge of the Championship would stand him in good stead, and he made the starting line-up for the first game of the season at home to Cardiff. However, he would come off at half-time in that match, and while he featured in three of Farke’s next four matchday squads in the league and played in both of Leeds’ League Cup matches against Shrewsbury and Salford, he hasn’t made a first-team appearance since the end of August.
Partly hampered by injury, Hjelde has been out of the picture for a while now, playing more minutes at Premier League 2 level (270) than he has for the first team (180). As such, an exit felt inevitable, and it remains to be seen what kind of fee Leeds have been able to bank, with Fabrizio Romano suggesting £2m.