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Paul Raynor explains what Leeds need to do with their brightest talents to avoid losing them following Sam Byram's departure

The academy graduate left Elland Road for West Ham earlier this week.

Leeds assistant coach Paul Raynor has insisted that it is important that the Whites look to get their brightest stars signed up to long-term contracts if they wish to avoid a repeat of the events of this window, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.

Academy graduate Sam Byram departed for West Ham this week after United put themselves in a difficult position. With his contract at Elland Road set to expire in the summer (via Yorkshire Evening Post), Leeds were forced to decide whether to sell him during this window, or keep him for the remaining months of the season in the hope that his situation changes. 

The possibility of him changing his mind and deciding to sign a new deal, or perhaps his form inspiring the side towards the play-off places, and subsequent promotion softening the blow of his departure, may have tempted Steve Evans to keep hold of the winger for as long as possible. 

And with that same conundrum potentially on the horizon in the coming months regarding some of the club's other key stars: Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook - who all have just 18 months left to run on their current deals (via Yorkshire Evening Post) - Raynor admitted that it was important that United look to seek long-term commitment from their players.

"You hopefully tie them down to longer contracts. You're hopefully challenging at the top end of the table so that they don't want to leave," he said, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"What we need to try and do is tie these lads to longer contracts and hopefully they see that we're moving forward as a club, with myself and the gaffer, to go onto bigger and better things."

With Leeds' play-off hopes in the balance, it is arguably more important that the club look to invest their time in tying the trio down for longer, before concentrating on looking to make any signings.

The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that both Cook and Taylor have been attracting attention from the Premier League recently, while Mowatt has been linked with clubs such as Liverpool in the past (via Daily Mirror), and the longer their respective contracts are left to run down, the greater the likelihood that the interest in them will intensify. 

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