Former Leeds United midfielder Michael Brown has claimed the Elland Road outfit agreed a fee with Southampton for striker Che Adams during the January transfer window.
Adams was United’s primary target for the mid-season market and felt confident a deal would be possible at the start of the month, but Southampton showed a firm resistance to any transfer and the 23-year-old eventually remained at St. Mary’s.
We were in the market for a new striker in January after Arsenal recalled Eddie Nketiah, and ultimately completed a deal with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig to bring Jean-Kevin Augustin to West Yorkshire on loan with a €21million (£17.5m) obligation to buy dependent on promotion.
Reports last month claimed Director of Football Victor Orta had offered Southampton a loan deal that featured a £20m obligation to buy, which similarly depended on Marcelo Bielsa securing promotion.
But the offer fell flat on the south coast, as Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made it clear that Adams was not for sale, despite the forward being without a goal in any competition since his summer move from Birmingham.
Adams’ drought has since continued to now be 26 appearances without a goal across all competitions, but Brown has rued our advances collapsing and believes a fee was agreed before Hasenhuttl stepped in and Southampton pulled out.
“[The deal for] Che Adams was agreed,” Brown told Football Insider. “I think at £17million, then Southampton said: ‘Can you increase that bid’?
Should Orta have offered more than £20m for Adams?
“Adams wanted to go, then the price went up £2million more. Leeds met that, it was agreed, and then the Southampton manager stepped in and said: ‘Do you know what? I want to keep him’.
“Adams had contributed to the team, the manager got stronger at Southampton, regarding their results, and Adams obviously stayed where he was so Leeds probably missed out on that [number] nine that they wanted.”
Adams would certainly have been a more ready-to-go player in the Championship than Augustin has proven to be, as the Southampton forward has started ten games across all competitions this season while making a further 16 outings from the bench.
As for Augustin, the Frenchman had only started five games for AS Monaco across all competitions while on loan in the Principality, and has since managed just three substitute appearances for United.
Bielsa has also only trusted Augustin to feature for a total of 48 minutes in the Championship since his move, and with Patrick Bamford now five league games without a goal, the need for Augustin to feature – and score – is growing more and more.
In other Leeds United news, an Elland Road exodus is expected if Bielsa walks out on the club this summer.