False Leeds United promises avoided in blunt contract talks Daniel Farke cannot dress up

-Credit: (Image: Kieran McManus/REX/Shutterstock)
-Credit: (Image: Kieran McManus/REX/Shutterstock)

Surrounded by his family, Liam Cooper’s lap of Elland Road after Leeds United’s final home match of the season put the writing on the wall. It has become customary for most of the Whites players to go around the pitch after every home game, but the final lap of the campaign is always an important farewell.

With Wembley still to come, it wasn’t quite a goodbye until August, but Cooper was the only player with family on that lap of honour. Stuart Dallas’s shoves of his best friend towards the supporters, and later orchestration of photographers for Cooper family pictures, felt as subtle as a sledgehammer blows.

Daniel Farke, who had given the 32-year-old his first appearance in seven weeks on an emotional evening, would later insist nothing had been decided on the skipper’s future. Paraag Marathe then doubled down on that in the days after the play-off final and insisted Cooper could still stay or go this summer.

READ MORE: Liam Cooper's Leeds United influence felt in key summer development for Daniel Farke favourite

Last week’s confirmation of ongoing contract talks with Cooper should not be a major surprise to many, especially with another year in the Championship to come for a squad currently lacking experience. We will come to the player in a moment, but, from Farke’s point of view, this is a leader on and off the field for the entire club, a galvaniser, a reliable back-up in defence and a promotion winner.

Cooper will be 33 before the end of August and if Farke hopes to have him in reserve for much of next season, he will have to accept some rusty displays at short notice. Good Friday was a painful evening in the promotion race for all concerned. Cooper had been dropped in at the deep end with next to no match rhythm.

If Farke’s logic behind another season together is clear, Cooper’s would be harder to grasp. LeedsLive understands there have been no false promises made to the Scotland international about how next term would look.

The veteran would effectively, when fit, be on the bench until injury or suspension calls for his inclusion. This would look remarkably similar to the direction Luke Ayling saw matters going in last term.

Does Cooper want to spend another of the precious few years he has left in professional football watching on from the sidelines and giving pep talks in the dressing room? Going beyond his official 10-year anniversary to secure a rare testimonial is hardly the kind of carrot that competes with the blood and thunder of a campaign on the frontline either.

There is no doubt this will not be an easy decision for Cooper, who has poured so much of himself into United. He would have loved to see his playing days out at Elland Road, but job security and a realistic chance of playing regularly have to outweigh everything at this stage of his career.

His contract will expire in less than three weeks. Interest from Championship clubs should firm up before then, while he hopes to avoid serious injuries with Scotland in Germany.

Whatever the rest of June brings, supporters should be able to see what he has given, achieved and why he takes the path he eventually chooses.