With confirmation talks are advanced, Leeds must agree terms with 5ft 7in player before rivals
COMMENT By Richard Parks
Talk about a no-brainer.
Leeds United are not nearly so strong enough or brilliant enough at talent spotting that they cannot afford to extend the contract of Pablo Hernandez in the coming weeks.
The demand from supporters for Hernandez to be tied down to a new deal is reaching fever pitch as a campaign that once promised so much now peters feebly to an end.
Encouragement for Leeds fans has come through a confirmation yesterday (Wednesday) from manager Paul Heckingbottom that states talks are “ongoing” with the Spaniard over a contract extension that all parties have stated they are keen to nail down.
Heckingbottom said, as quoted by Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Lee Sobot on his personal Twitter account, that discussions with Hernandez are advancing but there has not yet been a breakthrough as the club await a “definitive answer”.
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Heckingbottom on talks with Hernandez over new deal: “We spoke the other day about it. Discussions are ongoing, but it’s pointless for me to say anything about it until we get a definitive answer.” #lufc
— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) March 28, 2018
This is normal for such negotiations and there is no need for concern at this stage.
The playmaker has his off days, and his tendency to go missing during tough away matches should prompt a rotation from Paul Heckingbottom that neither Thomas Christiansen or Garry Monk were willing to countenance.
But it is a sign of Hernandez’s continued significance at Leeds that his recent impressive displays were met with an avalanche of calls from supporters for the club to extend his contract.
Aged 32, the Spaniard remains one of the few players in Leeds’ squad who can elevate the team’s play and produce a moment of magic to rip open up a defence in a close-fought Championship encounter.
His brilliant technique, vision and set-piece excellence make him a key player. Even with his 33rd birthday this month, his game remains largely unaffected by the passing time.
The team is not so good that they can plan for next season without the Spain international, who has scored seven times and supplied nine assists from 36 matches in all competitions this season.
Leeds must look to get Hernandez tied down before other offers come his way in the summer.
Sure, his best years might be behind him and he is at a time in his career when the days of long-term deals are not an option.
But a one-year contract extension, with the option to extend if set targets are hit, would be the perfect combination of reward and challenge for a player for whom the fire still burns bright.
In other Leeds United news, 13 players are fighting for their jobs as behind-the-scenes planned laid for huge cull.