Leeds in hunt to sign Celtic defender Leo Hjelde - Graham Smyth
Leeds United are in the hunt to sign young Celtic defender Leo Hjelde, according to Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Graham Smyth.
Writing on the YEP website, Smyth reports that Hjelde, 17, is “one of several youngsters on the domestic scene and abroad who are on Leeds’ radar” this summer with up to four new additions expected.
It is understood that Leeds see Hjelde as a potential addition to the Under-23s squad as he’s a left-footed centre-back and is wanted at Elland Road to replace Blackpool-bound Oliver Casey.
‘The next van Dijk’?
Hjelde earned his first taste of senior football in the UK this season after joining Scottish Premiership side Ross County on loan from Celtic in the winter.
The Norway youth international ended up making 12 appearances for the Staggies and he even managed to get himself on the scoresheet in their 3-2 win against Kilmarnock in March.
Hjelde, as mentioned, is left-footed and can play as a left-back as well as a centre-back and while Leeds could do with a left-back to replace the outgoing Ezgjan Alioski, Hjelde probably isn’t seen in that light by Victor Orta.
Instead, the Norwegian is likely to be seen as one for the future as it’s very promising that he’s played a good amount of minutes in the Scottish Premiership despite being just 17-years-of-age.
In fact, Hjelde did so well at Ross County that he was compared with ex-Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk by their manager John Hughes, who also revealed the Yorkshire club has previously been interested.
“Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk – trust me on that,” said Hughes, as quoted by the YEP.
“The quality he has shown, the physical challenge, playing real men’s football and standing up to it – it’s been a wonderful experience for Leo.
“Before he came, Leeds United were after him. I think he had to sign an extension to his contract for the loan to go through. He’s got massive things in front of him. He won’t be far away from Celtic’s first-team when he goes back.”
As per the BBC, Hughes has also called Hjelde “absolutely fantastic”.
Hjelde sounds like the real deal and we hope that we do see him at Thorp Arch in time for next season.
In other Leeds United news, we have a big update on supposed advanced talks to sign a £40million player.