Leeds United's £22m knock-on leaves another sour taste in the mouth as deal waved through

-Credit: (Image: Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Loan clauses are not expected to strangle Leeds United in this transfer window as much as they did 12 months ago, but they are not dead and buried. Seven players were able to walk out on Daniel Farke and the Whites last summer without the club being able to do a thing.

Andrea Radrizzani, Angus Kinnear and Victor Orta had overseen a long line of contract agreements that allowed United’s players to jump ship in the event of relegation. Provided they could find clubs to pay their wages in full, they were free to leave for the season and avoid righting the wrongs of their demotion.

Jack Harrison is one of only two players with such a clause active again this summer, following United’s failure to win promotion last month. The 27-year-old’s second loan switch to Everton is expected to be announced imminently.

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Daniel Farke will be pleased to have one of this summer’s many loose ends tied up, even if it perhaps isn’t the most satisfactory of conclusions. If Farke accepts they are powerless to control Harrison’s fate, the next best option is having it dealt with swiftly, freeing up the winger’s wages on their budget as early as possible.

There will understandably be a sour taste left in some mouths, however. The obvious reaction to news of Harrison’s sixth loan in six years is frustration the mark-up on a profitable asset has slipped through Leeds fingers.

We don’t know if Farke would have wanted to work with Harrison, but the player had no interest in stepping back into the Championship. If an exit is agreed as the best outcome, then surely a sale is the way Leeds would have wanted to go.

LeedsLive understands the Whites were open to permanent talks with the Toffees, but while that clause existed it made life infinitely easier for Harrison and Everton to get it done swiftly. Having paid around £11m for Harrison in 2021, Leeds could have generated a sizeable profit for their financial fair play projections with a permanent sale.

That would have been money that helped Farke in this transfer window and perhaps even saved an alternative player in the squad from needing to be sold this summer. As it is, Leeds will make do with the money saved on wages and give Everton a free run at a player they may have had no financial chance of signing permanently.

It all boils down, like so many moves last year, to the clause Orta et al put so much faith in, the clause Farke has derided in the strongest possible terms at every opportunity. Leeds even had the chance to move on from that kind of deal when they gave Harrison a new contract just 14 months ago.

Radrizzani had accepted a £22m offer from Leicester City for Harrison at the 11th hour of the January 2023 window, but 49ers Enterprises pulled the plug once it got wind of what was going on on the other side of the world. Almost as an apology for that mess, which saw the winger pulled out of Leicester during his medical, a new contract arrived two months later.

Harrison’s previous contract was set to expire in June 2024, so he was approaching the final 12 months of that deal. United were looking to preserve his value, while no doubt boosting his wages, but the small print has left them in their current position.

It was a deal which committed Harrison to Elland Road, with messages of unfinished business, until 2028. Leeds were two points above the drop zone when they agreed to give him that escape clause.

Within a month, Orta was gone. Within two months, Leeds were relegated. Within five months, Harrison was gone. We will reconvene on Harrison again in 12 months’ time, when there will be another three years to run on that contract.