Liam Cooper drops Leeds United future hint as his contract ticks to expiry before 10th anniversary

A new contract at Leeds United is what Liam Cooper wants this summer, but right now he knows his future is up in the air as his current deal ticks down. The captain will be a free agent as of July 1, six weeks short of his 10th anniversary at Elland Road.

The 32-year-old has started just 11 of United’s 49 fixtures this season and with the club’s 2024/25 league unclear, there has been no progress towards a fresh deal at this point. Cooper has seen Joe Rodon, Pascal Struijk and Ethan Ampadu consistently selected ahead of him in central defence by Daniel Farke.

Two of his closest friends on the Leeds books, Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling, also began this season with less than a year to run on their contracts. Last week, the former announced his retirement from football after nearly two years of trying to come back from a fractured femur, while the latter is seeing out the season at Middlesbrough.

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The trio were recognised at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony last night, sharing the stage as they collected a special achievement award. On stage, Cooper made it clear what he hoped was coming before June 30.

Asked how he would sum up nearly 10 years with United, Cooper said: “Turbulence. Especially with these two boys as well, through many ups and downs. It was a difficult period, a couple of years to settle in. I suppose they say the rest is history.

“I’ve been captain nearly seven years now. I’ve tried every day to lead by example, to be a good example around the place and give everything I can to make this club better.

“These two have helped me along the way. It’s one (a job) I’ve done with great honour. I’ve enjoyed every second and, hopefully, that can continue for a few more years, but we’ll see.”

Dallas’s retirement was followed by a lap of Elland Road during half-time of Saturday’s loss to Blackburn Rovers, alongside his family. Cooper was visibly emotional on the pitch as the embraced them at the mouth of the tunnel.

The skipper would take his chance on stage to pay tribute to his best friend and team-mate.

“We were all on our different journeys before we got together and ever since Stu came through the door we’ve been best pals ever since,” he said. “Our families get on, they love the bones of each other.

“I want to pay my respects to Stu because I didn’t think I was going to get this opportunity, this is a bit of a surprise tonight. What we’ve been through, the ups and downs we’ve lived, it was a sad, sad say, but everything he’s done for this club, for myself, for my family.

“He’s carried himself with great pride and given everything for this club. He should be so proud of the career he’s had, but I wanted to thank him for the person he’s made me today.

“What he’s done for this club is unbelievable. [He] deserves all the plaudits he’s going to get. The same energy he’s put into trying to get back, he’s got to put that energy now into something else and I’ll be right by his side, he’ll be right by mine and whatever he chooses to do next, we’ll dive in and give it everything we’ve got.”