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Did Cellino make a mistake over Sam Byram in the summer transfer window?

If Massimo Cellino feels so strongly about Sam Byram's future at Leeds United, should he have cashed in?

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino made a controversial call this week to publicly criticise youngster Sam Byram.

The youngster is still to sign a new contract at the club, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

Cellino clearly feels strongly about the situation, telling the Yorkshire Evening Post: "He didn’t sign the new contract and he won’t sign it anymore. He’s been offered a contract a few times, he didn’t want to sign and I am deeply offended.

"I can’t believe that we’ve fallen out with it. I am so hurt inside that if he comes asking for a contract I would prefer to sign someone else."

He may not have seen the situation unfolding the way it has, but Byram's contract should have been agreed long before the summer even.

The failure to do so could even be an overhanging repercussion of Cellino's ban from the club last season.

Yet if Cellino feels so strongly about Byram, and will not offer him a new deal now, did he make a big mistake by not cashing in this summer?

The worst case scenario for Leeds is they let Byram leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The Sunderland Echo reported this summer that both Sunderland and Everton were interested in Byram, who was rated at £8 million.

Now by essentially showing his hand, Cellino has weakened his negotiating position if he wanted to sell Byram this January - and may be lucky to get £5 million.

Part of the reason Byram's price will have fallen is due to his loss of form, but the crucial factor is simply, why would a club spend upwards of £5 million - or even that amount, for a player they could sign for free in the summer.

The only reasons would be if they were so keen they wanted to secure him ahead of the opposition, or if there was an injury crisis which needed solving.

With Berardi impressing at right-back, and wingers signed to take Byram's place on the wing, the chances are diminishing that the youngster will be able to find his feet and hit the sort of form which would recover his price tag to the fees being discussed in the summer.

For Leeds, the Byram situation is now an unwelcome distraction, for a player who is not any longer regarded as a first choice.

Cellino's handling of the situation has been suspect, but right now Leeds stand to lose millions they can ill afford to, and cashing in would have been preferable to letting the youngster walk on a free, or a knockdown price.

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