Leeds United are looking to snatch 18-year-old Daniel Neil away from Sunderland, as reported by Football Insider.
The Whites were promoted to the Premier League this weekend after a 16-year absence, whilst Sunderland languish in the third-tier. The Sunderland academy has a strong reputation for producing talented players, but their current position makes it hard to retain them.
Joel Osorio and Josh Maja both left the club for a bigger stage, whilst other youngsters have struggled to force their way into the first-team reckoning. Even players who haven’t reached the under 23 side have been poached, with 16-year-old left back Logan Pye moving to Man United recently. It now seems that trend for losing top talent before they mature is set to continue with Bielsa’s side preparing a six-figure bid.
Neil was one of only a couple of the current youngsters to be retained, with the Sunderland youth setup receiving an overhaul. The under 18s had a horrible season, in which they lost all 16 matches, prompting only a handful of prospects to be retained.
The midfielder penned a new deal with the Black Cats, but that may not be enough for the club to retain him. He has been a regular in the club’s under 23 side and has appeared for the first team, making his debut in the 1-0 Checkatrade Trophy win over Morecambe in 2018. He bounced back from a career-threatening injury to impress for the under 23s, but now may not get to show Sunderland fans what he can do at senior level.
This will be yet another blow that Sunderland could do without. They are in turmoil, as we seem to constantly allude to on here, and losing another exciting talent will not go down well.
The issue is surely money; any income will be gratefully received by the Black Cats, who are currently at a low ebb. The division between owner and fans has never been so great and every bit of news seems to be greeted badly.
Neil might be best remaining with Sunderland and taking his first-team chances, but Leeds are just as adept at developing young talent, Kalvin Phillips a classic example, and that may tempt the youngster to Yorkshire.