Leeds United will have to beat off competition from Leicester City and Premier League club Burnley if they are to complete the signing of Sunderland defender Trai Hume, as reported by Leeds United News.
Northern Ireland international Hume has been in impressive form this season and has nailed down the right-back slot at the Stadium of Light and has cemented his place in Michael O’Neill’s side since his move over from Linfield. Hume’s form is now reportedly attracting interest from the Championship and Burnley.
The Ballymena-born right-back joined the Mackems for a reported £200,000 from Linfield in January 2022 and has a contract that runs at least until 2027. He made just three appearances from January until the end of the successful League One promotion campaign but featured 28 times last season and has already started 19 Championship matches this season.
Leeds has an abundance of players who can fill the right-back berth but that hasn’t stopped manager Daniel Farke earmarking the 21-year-old as a transfer target. Djed Spence is currently on loan at Elland Road from Tottenham Hotspur, Jamie Shackleton and stalwart Luke Ayling can all operate in that position as well as current left-back Sam Byram.
Leeds United News report that, as well as Spence’s likely return to his parent club, Leeds could lose Byram as his contract is expiring and the experienced Ayling has recently lost his place in the team meaning United may well need reinforcements. Hume is predominantly a right-back but can play in the middle of defence and could potentially provide a long-term replacement for Ayling and cover centrally.
Hume has been labelled ‘exceptional’ by his national team manager who believes his versatility and ability to handle the pressure and expectation at Sunderland stands him apart from other young players. “I think he has done brilliant, I have to say,” O’Neill said.
The former Stoke manager continued, “The thing that has impressed me most about Trai is his temperament. Sunderland is a great club to play for, but there is a lot of expectation there and it can be challenging for a young player. But he has coped with it exceptionally. Not only in terms of his level of performance, but tactically he seems very astute and I have seen him play in a number of positions.”
With Leeds chasing the top two for the automatic spots, their January transfer business could be vital. The interest in Hume suggests Farke is looking to the future and continuing to reshape the club’s already young squad.
Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland will still be looking at achieving a playoff spot so will be reluctant to lose a player who has established themselves in his starting line-up. Hume still has three and a half years left on the deal he signed in the summer so Leeds, or any of the interested clubs, would have to pay a fee substantially greater than what Linfield received for their graduate.