Leeds United Agree Fee For Former Player To Return

Leeds United are set to make their second incoming of the summer after agreeing a fee for former goalkeeper Alex Cairns.

The 31-year-old has been playing for Salford City after making his loan move to the club from Fleetwood Town permanent last summer. He was an ever-present in League Two for the Ammies in a sub-par season for the club which saw a managerial change.

The BBC’s Adam Pope confirmed that the deal was going ahead this morning, with Football Insider’s Pete O’Rourke adding that United will pay a ‘six-figure fee’ to Salford for the Doncaster-born shot-stopper. He was part of the team that caused an upset against Leeds in the second round of the EFL Cup, which was won by the fourth-tier side on penalties.

Cairns was in the last year of his deal at Moor Lane and Leeds have swept in to sign their former player amidst the sale of previous third-choice keeper Kristoffer Klaesson to Polish outfit Rakow Czestochowa yesterday. The move for their former keeper frees up a non-homegrown spot in their squad for next season.

Having come through the academy setup at Elland Road, the keeper made a solitary appearance against Blackpool under Simon Grayson’s time in charge of the Yorkshire club. He would be loaned out to non-league Barrow and Stalybridge before finally settling away from Leeds with Fleetwood Town.

Cairns was club captain at Salford for the first part of the 2023/24 season before the arrival of former MK Dons boss Karl Robinson in January. The armband was then handed to midfielder Elliot Watt for the remainder of the campaign before the 24-year-old moved to Burton Albion.

Leeds’ latest signing joins Joe Rodon through the door following his permanent transfer last week, seeing Archie Gray go the other way to Tottenham Hotspur. The keeper will join Illan Meslier and Karl Darlow as the three senior options for Daniel Farke’s team.

The sale of Cairns now leaves Salford without any goalkeepers, with a trialist being used in their opening pre-season friendly away to Northern Irish Premiership side Crusaders on Sunday.

Writer’s View

Leeds United’s move for Alex Cairns is purely to make their squad meet the EFL’s regulations for next season. Whilst a good keeper on his day, the 31-year-old would find it difficult in the Championship so will only likely make occasional bench and cup appearances next season.

It is a brilliant deal for Salford as they make a healthy profit on a player they signed for free just a year ago. It does now give way to a headache in finding a new first-choice keeper but it won’t be much of an issue with just over a month before the new season starts. Former keeper Vaclav Hladky was released by Ipswich Town this summer, so perhaps a reunion could be on the cards?

About Lewis Gray 160 Articles
1st Class Honours in Multimedia Journalism at Salford University. Writing mainly about League Two.

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