Huddersfield Town owner Phil Hodgkinson has commended Lewis O’Brien’s professionalism in the summer amid strong interest from Premier League side Leeds United, speaking to Yorkshire Live.
After being one of the Terriers’ standout players in an underwhelming past couple of seasons at the John Smith’s Stadium, Marcelo Bielsa’s side had entered the race and had their first offer for the 22-year-old rejected back at the start of August, according to Football Insider.
As per owner Hodgkinson, who had reportedly valued one of his key assets at £10m, three further offers arrived from the Whites for his services, in an attempt to fend off interest from fellow Premier League club Crystal Palace who had also entered the race.
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Amid this strong interest from Leeds, with O’Brien spending the whole of his playing career in Yorkshire after graduating through the Terriers’ youth academy and then going out on loan to Bradford City before establishing himself as a key player for the Championship side, the 22-year-old was reportedly set to tell Huddersfield officials he wanted to leave the club to link up with their neighbours at Elland Road.
But the second-tier outfit’s owner had nothing but praise for the midfielder’s professionalism throughout the summer window, saying to Yorkshire Live: “Lewis was aware of the interest from Leeds, as were we, and Lewis was fantastic.
“Lewis is everything you want in a footballer. His agent, Kevin Sharp, is ultra-professional.
“I sat down myself and Leigh Bromby sat down with Lewis and we discussed it and Lewis said ‘of course I want to play in the Premier League and playing for someone like Bielsa with his reputation can only make me better, but I understand that the offer’s got to be right for the football club.
“It will not affect me in any way, it will not affect my commitment, what I do in training, what I do on the pitch, I just want to play football, that’s all I want to do’.”
Although he only has less than a year left on his current contract as things stand, Huddersfield have the option to trigger a 12-month extension on his deal which would keep him at the John Smith’s Stadium until 2022.
This may not even be necessary though, with the player reported to be ‘open’ to fresh contract negotiations.
This is seriously impressive all-around, not just from the player, but also the agent and the owner himself. Hodgkinson’s transparency during the summer will have helped to keep the player happy and considering the intense interest surrounding him, this strategy employed by the Huddersfield owner was the right one.
O’Brien’s agent also deserves a special mention, because he could have easily pushed his client for a lucrative move to the Premier League in the summer. Not only was Leeds United’s interest strong, but a move there would have allowed the midfielder to stay in the local area, so fair play to Kevin Sharp for maintaining his professionalism.
At this stage in the 22-year-old’s career, the player has made the right decision to not force a move away just yet. He has the guarantee of first-team football on offer and he will know that if he can maintain his performance levels from the past couple of seasons, he will have another chance of getting to the Premier League.
After going out on loan to Bradford City during the 2018/19 campaign and missing out on top-flight football with the Terriers, his motivation and hunger to get to the Premier League must be insatiable.
This makes his decision not to push for a move all the more impressive. Good things come to those who wait – and you would think he would get to the top division in the next couple of seasons – with or without Huddersfield Town.