By Alex Stevens
Leeds could be forced to turn their striker attention elsewhere after West Ham pulled out of the race to sign Brentford front man Scott Hogan, according to a report.
The Mirror transfer blog (Monday, 7.02pm) claim Garry Monk’s side are in pole position to land Hammers fringe striker Ashley Fletcher after a month-long chase.
But Sky Sports reported on their website late on Monday night that Slaven Bilic has decided to end West Ham’s pursuit of Hogan as “he does not need” the Brentford forward.
Bilic’s decision to call a half to the Premier League club’s pursuit will almost certainly have ramifications for Leeds as it is expected the manager will only allow Fletcher to leave if he adds more firepower up front.
The Mail went as far as to report on Sunday night Leeds were expecting the arrival of Fletcher and that the Premier League striker would transfer from the London Stadium to Elland Road before the window shuts on Tuesday night.
Th development 24 hours before the deadline will be a bombshell for Elland Road manager Garry Monk, who has consistently stated this month that adding a new striker is his priority.
Leeds have not yet signed any new players in the January window and Monk made the case for reinforcements following Sunday’s humiliating FA Cup exit to non-league Sutton United.
The manager of the Championship promotion hopefuls wants striker cover for leading scorer Chris Wood, whose 20 goals in all competitions this season is 15 more than closest challenger Souleymane Doukara.
Fletcher, 21, has been on the fringes of the West Ham team since joining last summer on a free transfer, with most 13 of his 16 appearances coming as a substitute.
But he still represents cover for leading men Andy Carroll and Diafro Sacko, who is expected to recover from injury shortly, while wide forward Andre Ayew is on his way back from the African Cup of Nations.
However, it has been widely reported that the Championship promotion hopefuls are on the verge of signing Villarreal winger Alfonso Pedraza on a loan-to-buy deal.
Football Insider verdict:
West Ham’s decision to pull the plug on their Hogan pursuit has major ramifications for Leeds, who have been patiently waiting for the Premier League club to land a new striker and then give the green light for Fletcher to leave. Unless West Ham can recruit another forward before Tuesday night, it appears that Leeds’ pursuit of Fletcher has reached a dead end. Monk will hope that the Elland Road chiefs can pull a late cat out of the bag.
In other Leeds news, there has been a finale in a major deal after a £7million Leeds bid was tabled.