Noel Whelan has claimed he was left surprised that midfielder Callum Nicell has quit Leeds United with nearly a year left on his contract.
Football Insider revealed earlier this week that Nicell, 19, had left the club by mutual consent yesterday following a window in which he had been granted permission to find a new club by United.
This came after he had a trial at Leicester City and spent time at another Premier League club as he set his sights on ending his lengthy association with Leeds.
Whelan did not expect the 2016/17 Academy Player of the Year to leave, given that he had signed a two-year contract only last year.
“I didn’t see this coming, to be honest, especially as everyone a the club seemed to think highly of him,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He’s obviously ambitious and he doesn’t want to waste his time at Leeds if he isn’t going to make the first team.
“That’s up to him, and it shows that he backs himself to walk out on a contract. Leeds will have given him a percentage of what he would have earned over the season and he will hope to make up the remainder at a new club.
“That’s brave, in a way. Will Leeds regret it? Obviously, they don’t want their best young players to go, but you would think Marcelo Bielsa would have promoted him to the first team if he felt he was ready.
“He has backed young talent and given them lots of opportunities since he took over, so he obviously felt Nicell had some way to go.”
Nicell leaves Leeds after a 12-year association that began when he joined the club’s academy at the age of seven.
The Republic of Ireland youth international did not make an appearance for the Leeds first team, with an appearance on the bench the closest he got to represented his hometown club.