By George Overhill

16th Jun, 2022 | 4:40pm

Leeds United chase striker Erik Botheim after Russian contract termination

Leeds United are one of a host of teams chasing Norwegian striker Erik Botheim after he terminated his contract in Russia, according to TEAMtalk.

The 22-year-old parlayed a strong 2021 season in his homeland with Bodo/Glimt into an £8million move to Krasnodar in January, but never played for them.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine his contact was suspended before he opted to terminate it entirely in May as the conflict continued, according to his agent on Instagram.

In these unusual circumstances a player who TEAMtalk refer to as “one of Scandinavia’s top prospects” and “a good friend [of] Erling Haaland” is available on a free transfer, and is attracting major interest as a result.

Rangers have been alerted and a crowd of English clubs are “keen” in addition to the Whites, including Southampton, Fulham, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Stoke and Watford, while there is interest from across Europe.

The Norway under-21 international scored 15 times in the league in Bodo/Glimt’s 2021 season, and added eight more in Europe, including two against Jose Mourinho’s Roma in a 6-1 Europa Conference League, before his ill-fated move to Russia.

Unique opportunity

It looks like United are going to have to move fast if they want to beat off major competition for Botheim’s signature.

The circumstances that have led to him being available are not at all positive, and without them it would surely not be possible to move for him without a significant fee.

Considering how many teams are readying an offer it is a surprise that he has remained a free agent for as long as he has.

United could use goalscoring help, with Patrick Bamford’s extensive injury issues through the 2021/22 season leaving them short up front, and while Joe Gelhardt is in line to step up he is still relatively unproven.

The club have already made two signings from Red Bull Salzburg in the form of Brenden Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen, and Bayern Munich’s Marc Roca is expected to follow imminently.

Help in attack and potentially in central defence are the only areas yet to be addressed, although another midfielder is thought to be sought.

If they can pick up a highly-rated young goalscorer on a free transfer it would be a coup, especially with so many sides after him.

The step up from Norway to the English top flight is a large one, and he has not played much football for months now, which may explain the hesitations from the interested pack, but he is sure to be snapped up by someone soon.

In other Leeds United news, a European giant is now seriously considering an alternative target to an Elland Road star who is far more affordable.