Rivals step aside to give Leeds clear path in pursuit of £3m-rated striker - reports
By Harry Sykes
Leeds United have been given the green light to make a strong push to sign Exeter wide forward Ollie Watkins, according to reports.
The Sun on Sunday (print edition, page 63, May 14) claimed that Leeds’ Championship rivals Derby were set to make a £3million bid for the 21-year-old.
But the Derby Telegraph now report that the prolific League Two attacker is not on the wanted list of the cash-rich Rams and there is not set to be any offer made.
This paves the way for Leeds and another second tier club, Bristol City, to battle for the signature of the exciting youngster, who was named the EFL Young Player of the Year.
Somerset Live claim Leeds want a new winger as they are preparing for the departures of on-loan trio Hadi Sacko, Modou Barrow and Alfonso Pedraza following the conclusion to the Championship season.
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Watkins is expected to be at the centre of a flurry of transfer activity in the coming weeks as the possibility grows that he will leave fourth-tier Exeter this summer.
The versatile forward, who can play out wide or as the spearhead of the attack, has made great strides since emerging from the ranks of the club.
He has scored 14 goals and supplied 13 assists from 50 matches in all competitions this season, with 13 of those goals coming in league matches.
In total, Watkins has netted 24 times from 76 Exeter matches, as well as weighing in with 17 assists.
Leeds are likely to be in the market for at least one forward this summer as a lack of goals in the side ultimately cost them in their push for promotion.
Garry Monk’s side were too reliant on 27-goal Championship leading scorer Chris Wood and had very few other sources of goals.
Meanwhile, target Watkins is currently involved in the League Two play-offs with Exeter and they play the semi-final second leg against Carlisle on Thursday night, with the two-legged fixture tied at 3-3 after the first encounter.
In other Leeds United transfer news, the club are in a three-horse race to sign a top-flight captain who is desperate to make a move to the Championship big hitters.