Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Leeds United probably didn’t expect to receive a helping hand from their time-honoured rivals from the other side of the Pennines as the summer transfer window creaks open. 

But that may be exactly what’s about to happen. Football, it’s a funny old game at times.

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According to The Telegraph, Manchester United are closing in on a deal that will see Tom Heaton return to Old Trafford, 11 years after his departure to Cardiff City.

But what does the impending departure of Aston Villa’s 35-year-old veteran have to do with Leeds United? 

It’s simple really. 

If Heaton does head back to where it all began for a second spell at the Theatre of Dreams, that means another former Man United shot-stopper won’t be competing with Dean Henderson, David de Gea and co for a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI next term. 

ESPN claims United were looking at Sam Johnstone, as well as Heaton. Given it’s the latter who will be a Man United player before long, that leaves the former still on the market. 

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And still within the reach of Marcelo Bielsa’s eternal entertainers. 

According to the Daily Mail, Leeds are looking for a goalkeeper to provide competition for the exciting yet erratic Illan Meslier. And Johnstone, West Bromwich Albion’s £18 million-rated glovesman, is one of the first names on Victor Orta’s hit-list. 

With the Baggies now preparing for life back in the Championship, Johnstone is unlikely to stick around for those Tuesday night trips to Luton Town and Preston North End.

The 28-year-old has sampled the delights of Premier League football and has little interest in lining his stomach with bread and butter again. 

And while it’s far from certain Leeds will win the race for his signature – Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and others have also been linked – Manchester United have just made life that little bit easier for their white rose rivals. 

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

In other news, Report: ‘Incredible’ player who stunned Jurgen Klopp now wants Manchester City transfer