By Craig Scott

7th Jan, 2022 | 12:40pm

Leeds United beat Newcastle United to sign Mateo Joseph Fernandez

Leeds United announced the signing of young striker Mateo Joseph Fernandez earlier this week.

On 4 January, the Whites confirmed that the 18-year-old had joined them from Espanyol after agreeing a three-and-a-half-year contract.

The Athletic journalist Phil Hay has since reported that there was competition for Fernandez’s signature with Leeds having to beat Newcastle United in the race to sign him.

“The one deal they’ve done this week is the 18-year-old striker from Espanyol, Mateo Joseph Fernandez,” said Hay on the latest episode of The Phil Hay Show.

“He’s very highly thought of but will go into the Under-18s or Under-23s.

“They’ve paid just under £1million for him and Newcastle had a go and didn’t get him. A lot of clubs were linked with him.

“He sounds pretty interesting, I think he could be one to watch but clearly going into the academy.”

Remarkable

It says a lot about Leeds and how well-respected the club’s youth system is for Fernandez to reject Newcastle.

While our own project at Elland Road is pretty exciting, it must have been hard for Fernandez to not get his head turned by what has been going on at St James’ Park in recent months with Newcastle being bought by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

The Magpies have the richest owners in the world and have serious aspirations of playing in the Champions League very soon (although a trip to the Championship could be on the cards first and foremost).

But Fernandez is a young player who could’ve seen a potential drop to the Championship as an opportunity for him – and he may be doing the same with us.

Bielsa only ever plays with one striker so unless Fernandez can play out wide or as a No 10, his pathway to our first-team is blocked.

Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo, Tyler Roberts, Daniel James, Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood are all likely to be picked ahead of the young Spaniard by Bielsa when it comes to choosing who’ll start up front for him in the senior side.

Fernandez may be here way longer than some of those players and he may also be here once Bielsa’s days at Elland Road are over so we can’t say he’ll never play for us.

But right now, we don’t expect to see the new signing any time soon in Bielsa’s senior squad.

In other Leeds United news, a pundit has slammed this big-money Leeds player amid speculation about him leaving this month.