Leeds United may have already agreed a Daniel James summer deal “in the back room” based on securing promotion to the Premier League, according to Noel Whelan.

The former United striker and BBC pundit suggested to Football Insider that the automatic promotion hopefuls could have an agreement in place with James’ club Swansea City after his January transfer collapsed at the eleventh hour.

The 21-year-old winger underwent a Leeds medical on deadline day and was all ready to sign a contract after agreeing the terms of a loan-to-buy deal worth £10million until the Swansea pulled the plug.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan said James’ subsequent performances mean Leeds’ only chance of landing the player this summer could be the groundwork they have already done on signing him.

“That’s the problem now (building interest),” he explained. “This deal should have been done apart from the u-turn at the last minute from Swansea which was a little bit naughty on their part, to be quite honest with you, because it doesn’t just affect the club, it affects the player.

“He’s been very professional to go back under those circumstances because the young man will be massively disappointed that’s not got over the line and (he’ll have) been excited about signing for Leeds United and having that promotion push.

“It shows great character to go back, still play, give 100 per cent, so you know you’re getting a good human being if they do go back to wanting to buy him, but yeah, like you said, that will only materialise if Leeds are in the Premier League.

“He’s such a good player, loads of people looking at him – Premier League clubs – so if they’ve got anything, a deal kind of done, in the back room that we don’t know about because of the u-turn that says ‘look, if you do get into the Premier League, we’re willing to sell him at the end of the season to you’ then that’s great, we’d be getting a fantastic player.

“If not, I’m pretty sure we’ll have to pay a lot more than what we were going to pay for him in the first place.”

James has lit up the Championship with his performances in recent months, including a wonder goal for Swansea on Tuesday night, and has also scored for Wales for the first time.

As revealed by Football Insider this week, Southampton are eager to get transfer revenge on Leeds over James as another United deal is done.

In other Leeds United transfer news, Noel Whelan has slaughtered SEVEN of the club’s senior players as “not talented enough” and who must be “got off the payroll”.