Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Leeds United can finally sign long-time Marcelo Bielsa target Ryan Kent for £20 million thanks to a release clause in the Rangers winger’s contract, as reported by The Athletic. 

The first time Ryan Kent caught the eye of the West Yorkshire giants, the mercurial Marcelo Bielsa was little more than a fanciful fever dream at Elland Road. 

It was January 2017 and Garry Monk’s Leeds had just gone down 3-2 to local rivals Barnsley.

A fresh-faced Liverpool loanee was the star of the show for Barnsley, firing a brilliant shot past a despairing Rob Green as the Whites fell behind Huddersfield Town in the Championship table. 

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Since then, Kent has never been far from Leeds’ thinking. Bielsa remains a firm admirer of a man who was first linked with a move to Elland Road three-and-a-half years ago – when he was valued at just £2 million (Goal).

Will Leeds finally sign Rangers star Ryan Kent?

Kent, and Leeds for that matter, have gone from strength to strength during the past few seasons.

Kent is now the wand-waving wizard of a Rangers side that swept all before them en route to the Scottish Premiership title last season. Leeds, meanwhile, finished within touching distance of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League table. 

But while a lot has changed at Elland Road and Ibrox, one thing remains the same – Bielsa’s burning desire to get his mitts on a winger who, thanks to the hands-on coaching of Steven Gerrard, has finally added a ruthless streak to his searing pace and mind-bending trickery. 

“Ryan Kent has been top class. He is scoring goals and looking very dangerous,” said Gerrard, who described the Anfield academy graduate as a “sensational” talent.

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Kent contributed 13 goals and 15 assists last season.

And, before you rush to point out Ross County and Livingston are hardly elite-level opposition, there’s an argument to be made that Kent’s best performances came in the Europa League. 

Gerrard would be loathe to lose his most influential attacker with just two weeks left in the transfer window.

But if Leeds are willing to trigger the £20 million release clause in his contract, Rangers would be powerless to prevent Bielsa realising a dream he’s been chasing since the days of Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown and Samu Saiz.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

In other news, Bielsa responds when asked if he will make January signings for Leeds