Leeds United plotting summer transfer for previous Fortuna Dusseldorf target

Leeds United are set to reignite their interest in Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder Ao Tanaka a year after seeing a bid rejected by the German side.

This comes following reports from Japanese outlet, Hochi, who have claimed the 25-year-old is subject of interest for multiple clubs across Europe. Premier League side Everton are also one of the sides keen to complete a deal for the 26-capped Japan international.

The Whites had previously attempted to bring Tanaka to Elland Road ahead of the 2023/24 Championship campaign, before Daniel Farke welcomed Glen Kamara and Ilia Gruev to Yorkshire, with the pair striking up a fine partnership in the heart of midfield. But a potential deal, of course, hinges of the financial predicament Leeds currently find themselves in.

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It has been reported that following their play-off final defeat to Southampton at Wembley last Sunday at Wembley, that the club owe around £190million in transfer fee instalments. It is said £73million of that sum needs to be paid by the end of next month, with up to £100million worth of talent expected to leave Elland Road in the summer.

The likes of Crysencio Summerville, Georginio Rutter and Wilfried Gnonto are the likely trio to make way for much of that sum. However, Tanaka's re-emerging links come as Archie Gray, who has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich this week, therefore midfield reinforcements would be necessary.

Across 30 2. Bundesliga appearances this term, the 25-year-old has often operated in the central midfield role, but has shown the versatility to play further forward or protecting the defence. Tanaka has averaged an 88.5% pass completion rate per 90 minutes this season, along with a 71.8% success rate with the tackles he has made.

In all competitions, the Japan international managed 12 goal contributions, bettering his first two campaigns in Germany. Upon making the Dusseldorf in the summer of 2022, Tanaka signed a three-year deal meaning he is entering the final year of his contract, a fact that could entice the Whites to revisit a deal during the upcoming transfer window.

The Flingeraner are set for another season in the second tier of German football having lost to VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga play-offs over two legs. For a player of Tanaka's talents, it seems likely he will be playing at a higher level next term, with Elland Road a possible destination for the versatile midfielder.