By Coral Barry
Leeds manager Steve Evans has admitted he is in the dark over Lewis Cook’s contract negotiations.
The 19-year-old midfielder has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks after establishing himself as the club’s prized asset.
Evans said before the Championship club’s 4-0 humbling at Brighton on Monday that Leeds were in talks with youthful trio Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor and were confident of extending their contracts, but those claims have subsequently been dismissed by Cook’s and Mowatt’s representatives.
Speaking at his first press conference since the Brighton defeat, Evans revealed on Friday he actually has no clue if Cook or his young teammates are close to agreeing a new deal.
“One hundred per cent I don’t know,” he said. “They’re good players and I want to work with them and I now have to let the senior people at the club deal with their business, which is contracts.
“Rather than me worry about what we’re doing or not doing, I have to let those people do their jobs. They don’t do my job so I’m not going to try and do theirs.”
Cook has made 30 league appearances this season for Leeds in central midfield, 29 of which have been starts, and his performances have attracted the attention of England’s biggest clubs.
Football Insider revealed in December that Manchester United were among the clubs scouting the teenager, while Bournemouth made a bid for him in January.
Evans has been under immense pressure as manager after the Brighton embarrassment and did not appear at the post-match press conference.
The Whites have managed just one win in 11 league games and reports from the Sun and the Yorkshire Evening Post have suggested that Cook’s current contract has a release clause of £5million if Leeds fail to gain promotion.
Cook’s current contract expires in the summer of 2o17 as Leeds sit 18th in the Championship, nine points above the relegation zone.
Leeds welcome fellow-strugglers Bolton on Saturday.