Huddersfield Town pleased supporters back in the summer by standing firm when Leeds United came knocking for Lewis O’Brien.
Leeds put forward a package worth £13m, according to Town chairman, Phil Hodgkinson. That was rejected, not suiting Huddersfield’s position, and eventually O’Brien committed himself to a long-term contract at the John Smith’s Stadium.
O’Brien’s new deal keeps him tied to Huddersfield until 2025 and secures Carlos Corberan’s key asset. It doesn’t prevent a transfer completely, but it leaves the Terriers in a strong position.
Leeds failed to land a central midfielder in the summer transfer window and look desperately short of depth in the engine room by Premier League standards. In one of the next two transfer windows, something will have to give at Elland Road.
Daniel James’ eventual arrival at Leeds is evidence that Marcelo Bielsa and scouts across West Yorkshire never forget a failed transfer pursuit. O’Brien, then, may never truly be off their radar.
Like in the summer, though, Huddersfield retain control of this situation.
O’Brien’s contract means that they are sat on an asset worth an eight-figure transfer fee. That’s gold for a Championship side given the division is an extremely difficult one to manoeuvre through from a financial point of view.
That’s O’Brien’s off-field importance, which needs talking about. As does his importance on the green rectangle for Corberan.
Huddersfield currently sit eighth in the Championship table, a point outside the play-off places. They aren’t there by fluke, their performances and improvement defensively deserve to be praised.
O’Brien remains the heartbeat of the side, too. The ball of energy that bursts from box-to-box, carrying Corberan’s side through transitions. He’s crucial to keeping them in the mix for the play-offs and potentially the Premier League.
Harry Toffolo recently outlined why O’Brien was a Premier League player in waiting, one that Huddersfield should be wanting to keep hold of for as long as they possibly can.
Whether Leeds come knocking again is something that nobody can predict. You’d say, though, that Huddersfield’s stance should not change whilst the carrot of a potential promotion push dangles.
Fans remain realistic after the summer’s big win, but you keep them onside by retaining your best player whilst the dream is still alive.