Leeds United goodbyes expected as players fail to make the cut and contract offers are rejected

-Credit: (Image: MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Contracts at Leeds United will expire exactly one month from now and it will mean final goodbyes to Elland Road for some. The Whites are expected to publish their retained list imminently, which will spell out who is leaving and who will be offered fresh terms before their deals expire.

Of the players who have featured for the first team in the past, Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper are the highest-profile names. The former has, of course, already agreed terms with Middlesbrough on a contract that starts on July 1, one day after his Leeds deal ends.

In the case of the club captain, LeedsLive understands nothing final has been decided on either side, but an exit seems more likely than not. Daniel Farke and the Whites are open to offering the veteran a new contract, but Cooper would be unlikely to play any more than he did last season.

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At 32, a two-year deal elsewhere in the Championship as a regular starter would understandably appeal more to a player who may only have three or four more years of his career left. Cooper is currently with Scotland ahead of Euro 2024 and may be keen to tie something down before the tournament starts.

Sam Byram’s arrival was viewed with some scepticism last summer because of his injury record and that of his full-back predecessors at Elland Road. The 30-year-old started semi-regularly until December and surpassed many expectations with his fitness.

However, injuries did bite in the second half of the season and he ended with 24 league starts across the regular campaign. Given how inexperienced the dressing room is and how highly Farke rates him, a new contract, perhaps another 12 months, would not be a major surprise.

Byram may well find a longer contract elsewhere and decline any United offer, but either way, Leeds will need to add new full-backs to their ranks this summer. Jamie Shackleton is another full-back who seems set to depart Elland Road.

Now 24, Shackleton had another season sat predominantly on the sidelines. In the five seasons he has had at Elland Road since his debut, he has never made more than seven league starts, while there were 17 with Millwall on loan last term.

Farke may want to retain his versatility, but common sense would suggest the Thorp Arch product needs to start again elsewhere with the prime years of his career on the horizon. Shackleton will surely want to be somewhere where he can make 35 or more league starts in a year.

Ian Poveda has almost certainly played his last game for Leeds, the home FA Cup draw with Plymouth Argyle, as his wasteful stint comes to an end. The 24-year-old arrived from Manchester City in 2020 with an impressive youth CV that took in some of the world’s most successful clubs.

Evidently, Poveda’s promise has been seen by scouts since he was a child, but he is yet to put together an eye-catching season of senior football. Neither Leeds, nor Blackburn Rovers, nor Blackpool, nor Sheffield Wednesday have seen him scoring or assisting regularly.

Dispatches from Hillsborough suggested there was some promise in the winger’s performances down there, but it would be a major surprise for Farke to offer him another chance before June 30. Another second-tier outfit may take a punt on the Colombia international.

At one stage, Cody Drameh was seen as Ayling’s heir at right-back, but they look likely to leave Elland Road at the same time. Jesse Marsch talked up Drameh a lot as someone he wanted to develop during his reign, but the opportunities never materialised.

The 22-year-old drew rave reviews with Cardiff City and Luton Town during Championship loan spells. Farke wanted to give him a chance after United’s relegation last August, but a shambolic turn from the bench at Portman Road virtually confirmed an exit which was already a possibility.

Drameh was in the Birmingham City squad relegated last season, but it would be a big surprise if another second-tier outfit did not offer him a contract this summer. Rob Edwards may even want to take him back to Kenilworth Road after their relegation, given their past success together.

Lewis Bate seems to have also played his last game in Leeds white. Bate had a very brief flirtation with the Leeds first team at the end of the season in which Marsch secured survival from the Premier League drop.

An eye-catching turn at Arsenal was followed by a difficult Chelsea experience and he hasn’t really been seen since. Farke kept him involved last summer, but Bate didn’t get a senior kick until January 2024 when he went down to Milton Keynes Dons in League Two.

To his credit, Bate was a regular with the promotion chasers and will hope that form could lead to a League One contract somewhere this summer.