Noel Whelan has claimed Leeds United have handed Liam Cooper a new contract to fend off interest from Premier League clubs.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds forward claimed the Scotland international, 28, is a player in demand after developing into an “outstanding” centre-back.
Leeds announced this week they have agreed a new five-year deal with Cooper that commits him to the club until 2024.
The club captain was handed his first Scotland caps during the recent international break and Whelan claimed the call-up was well deserved.
“He’s becoming an outstanding defender and I’m not surprised Leeds have given him a better contract,” Whelan told Football Insider. “It’s well deserved for a centre-back who’s among the best in the Championship.
“He used to make too many mistakes, but he’s got so much more consistent under Bielsa. Every area of his game has improved, and the Scotland selection was well deserved as well.
“Is he good enough for the Premier League? Definitely. Will he be in the side if we go up next season? Definitely. Bielsa trusts him as his captain and first choice centre-back.
“He’s been given the new deal because top Premier League clubs have been sniffing around him.”
Cooper was named in the PFA Championship team of the year last season along with Leeds teammates Pablo Hernandez and Pontus Jansson, who was sold in the summer.
He has started five of United’s six league matches this season and missed the other one due to injury.
In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that the club are set to lose loan star in the January window after developments.