The 23-year-old was one of the Terriers’ star players last term with 50 competitive appearances to his name, playing a key part in guiding them to the play-off final with only a 1-0 defeat preventing them from being promoted back to the Premier League.
Their failure to win promotion could be costly in terms of keeping O’Brien – because he looks destined to leave this summer with multiple teams from the top tier reported to be interested in his services.
According to TEAMtalk, Leeds, AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Southampton are all keeping tabs on his current situation at the John Smith’s Stadium, with any of the quintet free to directly enter negotiations with the midfielder if they trigger his £12m release clause.
The Whites and Palace were interested in recruiting the 23-year-old last summer with the former said to have submitted multiple bids to their local rivals in their quest to lure the Terriers’ star man to Elland Road.
These bids were unsuccessful – but that was at a time when O’Brien didn’t have a release clause in his contract – with this clause being included in the fresh deal he signed in September.
Leeds may be more successful this summer if they decide to continue their pursuit of the Championship ace – and O’Rourke is one man who is confident they have.
He said: “I think this one has got real legs, and you could see Leeds moving for him.
“It was a real blow for Huddersfield to miss out on promotion to the Premier League, and it’s going to make it really hard for them now to keep hold of Lewis O’Brien, who does have a release clause in his contract as well.”
Brenden Aaronson has already arrived at Elland Road this summer but with O’Brien able to play deeper, it would be no surprise to see them make a move for the latter as well with the 23-year-old shining consistently in the second tier.
If his price tag is only £12m, that’s a bargain considering his value to Carlos Corberan’s side and the Whites have every opportunity to generate even more money for his services in the future, so this is a move well worth making.
If Kalvin Phillips departs, you could definitely see Jesse Marsch’s side moving early to secure his signature, though that could happen anyway with a long-term successor for Mateusz Klich potentially needed.
And considering O’Brien has spent the entirety of his professional footballing career in Yorkshire, making the move to Leeds seems like the next logical step for him, with the midfielder likely to get more game time at Elland Road than many other top-tier sides.
His reported release clause will take any form of control over his future out of Huddersfield’s hands, so the second-tier side should have already drawn up a list of potential replacements in preparation for his likely departure.