By Richard Parks
Leeds United fans have reacted with anger, frustration and scepticism to Victor Orta’s admission that it will be “very difficult” for the club to keep Samuel Saiz and Pontus Jansson next season if they both push to quit this summer.
United director of football Orta made the huge admission as he responded to fears among supporters about the long-term futures of the team’s star pair.
Speaking today (Monday) to an online Leeds Q&A forum uploaded on to the club’s app, and as cited by Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay, the Spaniard says the club have a degree of power as playmaker Saiz and centre-back Jansson have both signed long-term contracts in the last 12 months.
Orta explained United are “really keen” to hang on to the star duo but admitted that there little to stop them heading out of Elland Road if they follow what Chris Wood did last summer and demand to leave.
Orta on retaining Saiz/Jansson if Leeds are in the Championship next season – they both have long contracts. We are really keen to maintain these players in the squad. But like Chris Wood, if a player wants to leave, it’s very difficult.
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 26, 2018
Saiz signed a four-year contract when he joined for £3million from Spanish second tier club Huesca last summer and Jansson penned a five-year deal in October just three months after his loan move was converted into a permanent transfer.
They are widely regarded as Leeds’ two prize assets, with Saiz immediately hitting the ground running in the last two matches after serving a six-game ban for spitting.
United fans are unhappy at the stance of club chiefs Orta and Andrea Radrizzani as they believe the pair will sell to the highest bidder in the forthcoming window.
Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:
When players were on short-term rolling contracts it made it easier for both parties for them to leave. Players now are on longer contracts. We should be saying, like Fulham, they’re our contracted players and they’re going nowhere
— Jettatura (@J3tt4tur4) February 26, 2018
Orta did exactly the same with Chris Wood. When we were supposedly being introduced to him and TC for the first time. Why, oh why, etc etc?
— Stuart Grant (@McClumsy84) February 26, 2018
I’ll wait to renew my ST then. These two are what makes us tick. They’re the entertainers as it were. I’d be scaring others off be extending their current deal
— Sam Jackson (@samjackson23) February 26, 2018
Well that’s basically saying to other clubs we’re open to selling anyone if the price is right…..FFS
— Mark Devaney (@markwd1) February 26, 2018
— MMW GREEN SOLUTIONS (@mmwgreen) February 26, 2018
its part & parcel these days, for example Adam Forshaw was at a smaller club & couldn’t turn down the chance to go to a big club quite recently.. wouldn’t want to lose PJ or Saiz but at least we will be able to set fee’s to reuse on replacements, due to length of contracts.
— Zachary B. (@LeedsZac) February 26, 2018
— Joe Catling (@JoeCatling19) February 26, 2018
Oh god this is the same problem as always lack of ambition beat players wanna leave we sell and don’t replace.
— jayjay82 (@jwh1982) February 26, 2018
As good as gone
— Paul Mundy (@mundy_paul) February 26, 2018
Football Insider verdict:
Orta’s startling admission will give Leeds fans the jitters and will do little to placate their fears that Saiz and Jansson are ripe for top-tier clubs to cherry-pick them during the summer window. With United unlikely to get promoted despite Paul Heckingbottom’s first win at the weekend, brilliant Spaniard Saiz and commanding defender Jansson are the two who are likely to be of most interest to the big guns. Leeds got £15million for Wood last summer from Burnley and it is highly possible that clubs could make offers for their star players they once again cannot refuse.
In other Leeds United news, the club have agreed the terms of an £8.5million deal, with the first payment scheduled for the summer.