By Noel Whelan

8th Jan, 2022 | 2:00pm

Leeds 'may already have £30m player' at Thorp Arch after Fernandez reveal - insider

Noel Whelan has suggested Leeds United could have a “£30million player” on their hands following the capture of Mateo Joseph Fernandez.

The former Leeds striker and club ambassador, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, heralded the Whites’ youth recruitment in recent years and insisted it could save the Yorkshire giants millions in the long run.

Leeds announced Fernandez’s capture from RCD Espanyol on Tuesday (4 January).

The 18-year-old will head straight into the under-23s setup.

As quoted by Leeds Live on Thursday (6 January), under-23s boss Mark Jackson revealed the Whites’ interest stretches back to the summer.

He insisted that there has been “extensive” work from Victor Orta and the recruitment team put into Fernandez’s capture.

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Jackson admitted he hopes the youngster can make “rapid progress” at Thorp Arch.

Whelan suggested any of Leeds’ recent young recruits could be worth £25million-plus in the future.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “This is not something where we’ve just put out hand into a bag and pulled him out.

“We’ve done our surveillance on him and watched him. Victor Orta has been out there and been an admirer of him for quite a long time now.

“On the videos it looks like he’s got a good size to him, a good stature. He can drop into that midfield role and turn on the ball.

“It’s good that we’re venturing into the under-23s again. Putting the trust in Jacko to bring them through, progress them and make them better players and contenders for the first team.

“I’ve got no problem with that. I think it’s worked so far when you’re looking at the players that are coming through at Leed.

“This is a really good way about going about it. We’re not having to fork out £25-30million. If we do this for a couple of years, then you may have a £30million player on your hands already.”

Fernandez never played for Espanyol’s senior side before moving to Leeds.

He did feature on the bench for their B team in the fourth tier of Spanish football in January 2021.

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