By George Overhill

15th Mar, 2023 | 12:40pm

Leeds United: January target Mason Holgate bargain replacement option from Everton if Newcastle sign Robin Koch

Mason Holgate is likely to be available for a very affordable price if Leeds United follow up their January interest with a summer approach.

The Sun reported on 22 December that the Whites had made an enquiry to Everton about the centre-back’s availability, and the club are likely to be in the market at the position in the summer whether they stay in the Premier League or not.

Robin Koch has emerged as a sought-after transfer target [Fabrizio Romano, 14 March], with Newcastle named above all.

And Bild’s Christian Falk reported on 11 March that a departure from Elland Road “shouldn’t be considered unlikely”, especially if the Magpies secure European football it would “hugely encourage” the German to make the move to enhance his national team prospects.

Diego Llorente may also still remain at Roma, where he has been since January on a loan-to-buy agreement, although little football and an injury in his long-awaited first start has put that in doubt.

Neither of the Whites defenders have showered themselves in glory over the past two seasons, although Koch has looked much more assured next to Wober than he ever did alongside Llorente or Liam Cooper.

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But if Leeds United retain an interest in Holgate he is likely to be available at the end of the season for next to nothing given his status at Goodison Park.

The 26-year-old will be entering the final year of his contract with the Toffees in the summer, and has fallen way down the pecking order on Merseyside.

After starting the first four Premier League games of the season he has barely been seen since, handed less than an hour in the EFL Cup by Frank Lampard otherwise, and just 45-minutes so far under Sean Dyche.

Even that appearance was as much a punishment for Idrissa Gana Gueye, whose error just before the break had put Arsenal in control on 1 March, than it was an endorsement of Holgate, so his prospects under the former Burnley boss look minimal.

Everton need to trim their wage bill and have a glut of centre-backs, so after 146 Toffees appearances the former England under-21 international seems certain to leave.

Unless Koch signs a contract extension before the summer he will only bring in a cut-price fee if he goes, but the Whites would still likely make a profit on the trade if they brought in Holgate as a replacement.

He is arguably not starting-calibre quality but given Koch’s wildly fluctuating form over the past year it wouldn’t be a monumental drop off.

If the German were to leave it is possibly Pascal Struijk who is the next man up next to Wober, so as a cheap back-up that leaves plenty of cash to spare for other signings a Holgate move in the summer could be on the cards if bodies are needed at the position.

In other Leeds United news, a star first-team player would reportedly be “very happy” to go as an audacious transfer approach is lined up from abroad.

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