Leeds United set sights on stars from Southampton, Newcastle United, Watford and Hull City last month.
The Leeds United managing director Angus Kinnear has confirmed the club explored deals for Southampton, Newcastle United, Watford and Hull City players in the January transfer window.
Leeds made three new additions last month, recruiting Elia Caprile as third-choice goalkeeper and replacing Jack Clarke and Eddie Nketiah with Ian Poveda and Jean-Kevin Augustin.
The Whites winter business ultimately ‘delighted’ Kinnear.
But, as many will have guessed, Leeds did not have things all their own way.
“One of the things we excel at with Victor (Orta, the Leeds director of football) in his role is his ability to identify when players are available,” Kinnear told BBC Radio Leeds. “People think that our scouting network is all about identifying talent – it’s actually quite easy to identify talent. The key is being able to find players who are ready for a move and you can extract them from their existing clubs.
“So I know the window was dominated with headlines around Che Adams (Southampton), Dwight Gayle (Newcastle), Andre Gray (Watford) and Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United, via Hull) and actually those are all avenues we explored. But you find out quite quickly whether they’re available or not available.
“Although the media speculation ran and ran, actually all those clubs said those players weren’t available pretty early on and I think the only one that left was Jarrod. He was always going to go a Premier League club because he wanted to play in the Premier League and actually based on what Hull received for him, he was only going to be afforded by a Premier League team.”
According to Kinnear, the reluctance of Southampton, Newcastle, Watford and Hull to part with their players was not the only stumbling block Leeds encountered.
“At the moment, we are right at the upper limit (of the EFL’s Profit & Sustainability rules),” he added. “That’s why in the last transfer window we had to cut our cloth accordingly and the thought of any Championship club paying £25 million for Che Adams or Jarrod Bowen just isn’t possible within the P&S rules unless (the club) have got a significant parachute payment.”
With Augustin’s deal a temporary one initially, it is possible that Leeds could revisit their interest in Adams, Gayle, Gray or even Bowen, whose West Ham side remain in relegation danger, in the summer transfer window, when Southampton, Newcastle, Watford and the Hammers may be more open to offers.
But Kinnear went on to suggest that even if Leeds are promoted this season, they are more likely to follow the leads of Norwich City and Sheffield United, who have invested sensibly since their ascent, than Aston Villa, whose expenditure over the past eight months has far exceeded £100 million.