Leeds United have once again left themselves open to letting millions go begging with Robin Koch now interested in leaving the club, and Newcastle among those interested.
Sport1 in Germany reported on 6 March that the defender is looking to make the next step in his career at the end of the season and is looking to move on.
The 26-year-old will only have a year left on his contract by the summer and the Whites could be forced to sell him at that point if one of the reportedly many England and German sides that are interested put in an offer that he wants to take up.
An exit might not be a disaster in itself, with his form over the past couple of seasons fluctuating wildly at times, but he won’t net Leeds United anything like the fee he would have if he had more years left on his contract.
Which is why it is so concerning that once again, an extension that has been reportedly close for months has yet to materialise, when the outlook then changes and a departure becomes more likely.
The Whites were handing out new contracts to centre-backs in December like they were going out of fashion, in the apparent belief that the transfer market is going to see players at that position worth a premium in the coming years [The Phil Hay Show, 29 December, 13m 15s].
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Pascal Struijk got one, surprisingly followed by the embattled Diego Llorente, with whom the move may have paid off if his loan move to Roma becomes permanent, even if that is apparently uncertain right now.
The Athletic reported on 29 December that Koch’s extension was “in the pipeline, waiting to be formalised”, but almost 10 weeks later it still hasn’t arrived.
With the arrival of Max Wober in January Koch’s form has improved markedly, which appears to have had the dual effect of drumming up interest in him and increasing his confidence that he is ready to move on.
If the deal wasn’t done when he was part of a shaky-looking back line beside either Llorente or Liam Cooper earlier in the campaign, it seems unlikely that it will be any more likely now he is part of a strong combination next to Wober and may have had his interest caught by big-spending Newcastle or another interested party.
Leeds United did the same with Kalvin Phillips last season, with a deal expected all year that never arrived before he left for Manchester City for £18million less than his price tag just months earlier [Times, 20 March].
And they are currently also in the same boat with Jack Harrison, with his asking price having dropped by £15million between the summer [Daily Mail, 16 July 2022] and January, and his oft-mooted extension still also nowhere to be seen as he approaches the final year of his deal.
Even if the club feel there is a decent chance that a player will want to move on they are repeatedly doing themselves out of millions in transfer revenue if they fail to get extensions agreed before the point of no return.
In other Leeds United news, a fire sale could be on the cards at the end of the season after “calculated risks” from Victor Orta.
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