Former Birmingham City and Scotland manager Alex McLeish believes Huddersfield Town will cash in on midfielder Juninho Bacuna this summer, speaking in an interview with Football Insider.
These comments from McLeish come amid strong interest in the 24-year-old from Scottish Premiership champions Rangers, with Steven Gerrard’s side reported to be in ‘advanced’ talks with the Terriers over a potential deal.
Bacuna, the younger brother of Leandro who plies his trade with Cardiff City, has proved to be a valuable asset for Carlos Corberan’s side over the past two seasons and has made 84 appearances during that period.
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The Dutch-born midfielder’s 20 goal contributions in those 84 displays has made the Gers sit up and take notice – and although Lewis O’Brien is currently stealing Huddersfield’s headlines after being heavily linked to Premier League neighbours Leeds United – the 24-year-old would also leave a huge void in the middle of the park if he was to leave.
Having already struggled in the Championship with the duo, finishing in a disappointing 20th place at the end of last season, many Terriers fans will be dreading what’s to come without them and they could be reluctant to let either go this summer.
But with Bacuna’s contract expiring in less than 12 months after already triggering a one-year extension on his current deal in the summer, the second-tier side may want to cash in now to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing next summer.
Alex McLeish is one man who believes he won’t be at the John Smith’s Stadium beyond the end of the transfer window – and speaking to Football Insider on the Curacao international, he said: “He’s emerged at Huddersfield who have struggled a wee bit at the start of the season.
“They have been a decent side playing at a good level for the last two, three years.
“You tend to feel that they’ll cash in on any of their highest-level players and that it’ll get done.
“It sounds as if he’s catching the interest of the big guns, that’s down to the recruitment people and the analysts at the clubs nowadays.
“They will probably be the guys in the ears of the managers.”
Lewis O’Brien’s situation could be crucial in whether a deal is eventually struck between Huddersfield and Rangers for the services of Bacuna – and here’s why.
It would be hard to imagine the club letting go of two of their most vital players, especially in the same position, less than a fortnight until the transfer window closes.
If we were in June right now, the situation would be totally different because they would have had the time to identify and analyse potential replacements. But it would be a risky move to sell both and try to bring in two new men with the season already underway.
If a sizeable Leeds United bid for O’Brien comes in and is deemed acceptable, the Championship club could potentially pull the plug on the Rangers deal.
However, they have the option of automatically extending his contract by a further year as they previously had with Bacuna, which may keep 22-year-old O’Brien in West Yorkshire and provide the green light needed for his fellow midfielder to depart.