By Nick Ware

5th Jan, 2021 | 1:05pm

Bid tabled: £5m blow landed in transfer battle for in-demand mid as Leeds plot Jan move – report

AC Milan have submitted a bid for reported Leeds United target Kouadio Kone, but it has been rejected according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

19-year-old Kone has been linked to a host of sides after impressing for Ligue 2 side Toulouse this season, with Leeds one of the clubs vying for his signature.

They face competition from Serie A leaders Milan, however, and the Italian side have made the first move for the French midfielder.

The Italian giants have reportedly offered around £5m for Kone, but Di Marzio says Tolouse are demanding at least £9m for his transfer.

The respected Italian journalist reports that Milan regard him as a signing for now and not just a prospect for the future.

Kone has made 17 Ligue 2 appearances so far this season, starting 13 of them as Toulouse have made their way to third in the French second division.

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Limited midfield resources

The suspension picked up by Kalvin Phillips against Tottenham on Saturday has exposed the lack of options available to Marcelo Bielsa in the centre of the park.

Phillips earned a needless caution in the latter stages of the 3-0 defeat to Spurs which brought up his fifth booking of the Premier League season, meaning he will miss their next league outing against Brighton on January 16.

The England midfielder plays a specialised role in front of the Leeds defence and his absence will be a blow to Bielsa ahead of a crucial fixture.

A win against the south coast side would increase the gap between the sides to 12 points and give Leeds plenty of breathing space away from the relegation zone.

The only other senior midfielder who has played in the Phillips role is Mateusz Klich, while 21-year-old Jamie Shackleton is a player that has made a substitute outing in Leeds’ last six games, and will be hoping to act as a beneficiary of Phillips’ suspension.

This all points to a need for reinvestment into the side, particularly in the midfield area where Leeds look lightweight at present.

Director of football Victor Orta might pay closer attention to news of Milan’s Kone bid, and would be advised to make a move soon to avoid disappointment if they are indeed interested in his services.

Regardless, Leeds should be looking at bolstering their midfield ranks.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay thinks this player might be in line for a debut in the FA Cup tie at Crawley Town.