Huddersfield Town’s Phil Hodgkinson has said an offer worth up to £13m from Leeds United for star man Lewis O’Brien was rejected because of the structure of the deal, speaking to Yorkshire Live.
22-year-old O’Brien, who has become a key figure at the John Smith’s Stadium in the past two seasons, was subject of intense interest from Premier League side and neighbours Leeds United in the latter stages of the summer window, launching four separate bids in an attempt to lure him away from the Terriers.
As per The Sun’s Alan Nixon, the Championship side valued the recently-appointed vice-captain at £10m, with the central midfielder having less than 12 months on his current deal.
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However, the Terriers held the upper hand at the negotiating table due to the fact they have the opportunity to trigger an automatic one-year extension on his current deal, effectively leaving him with over 18 months still left on his deal in West Yorkshire.
Although fellow top-flight side Crystal Palace had also joined the race for the midfielder’s services, it was Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds that continued to push for an agreement until the last few days of the transfer window.
Speaking to Yorkshire Live and BBC Radio Leeds on the Whites’ fourth and final offer for their key man, Huddersfield owner Phil Hodgkinson said: “The fourth offer we (from Leeds United) rejected was £13m.
“The issue was not the valuation, the issue was the structure of the offer, so what I have to consider having spoken to Lewis…Lewis wanted to play football, that’s what Lewis wants to do, which is fantastic to hear.
“From my perspective it’s about how much of that £13m is guaranteed, it’s about how much of it is add-ons and what those add-ons are made up of, and it’s also about how much cash you’re getting through the door because we were under no illusion and we were looking at replacing Lewis.
“We would have been paying out seven figures, significant seven figures, to replace Lewis, and coming out of Covid we had to make sure that the cash we got through the door covered what we had to pay out to replace Lewis.
“So the reality was it wasn’t the amount – £13m was the fourth offer we rejected – it was the structure that we rejected.
“It didn’t work for us as a football club, and my concern was the fact that Leeds wouldn’t go up to a structure we wanted, which was a reasonable one, even the player’s agent said so.”
Considering the fact another central midfielder in Juninho Bacuna had left the club for Scottish Premiership champions Rangers during the window with no replacement arriving, it’s understandable as to why Hodgkinson rejected this deal.
Without seeing the fine details of the offer, it would be hard for any outsider to deliver a verdict on whether the owner should have rejected this deal or not, but the departure of O’Brien would have left a huge hole in central midfield without a replacement coming in.
The fact he wanted to invest a considerable amount of money to bring in a replacement and not just do things on the cheap should be a source of encouragement for Terriers fans, in the club’s quest to re-establish themselves as a solid second-tier outfit after hovering dangerously above the relegation zone in the past couple of seasons.
To have the option to trigger an extension in O’Brien’s contract was also a key weapon they could utilise and as per Football Insider, they may need to use this again with Leeds United said to be keeping tabs on the 22-year-old.
And the fact they were able to retain him and such a key official at the club detail why such a lucrative offer was rebuffed just shows how much has changed at the John Smith’s Stadium over the summer. It’s a fresh start for manager Carlos Corberan – and he has managed to keep a crucial player in O’Brien.