West Bromwich Albion are reportedly interested in bringing Everton defender Mason Holgate back to the Hawthorns on a season-long loan – but Leeds United have got to rival The Baggies for his signature.
Leeds and West Brom were linked with a move for Semi Ajayi last week, but the Nigeria international opted to move to the Hawthorns for a bargain fee believed to £1.5million over the weekend.
Now, the Baggies are looking to reinforce their defence again, this time in the form of Holgate according to the Express & Star. The England Under-21 international played for West Brom during the second half of last season.
He clocked up 23 appearances for the Midlands club and was crucial in their run towards the Championship play-offs, largely being used as a right-back. But he has proven at Everton he is just as adept at centre-back.
Holgate is struggling to get game time under manager Marco Silva, and has played just 48 times for the club’s senior side since his £2million (ESPN) move to Merseyside from Barnsley in the summer of 2015.
Leeds have sold Pontus Jansson and Marcelo Bielsa wants ball-playing centre-backs at the heart of his defence. It is the reason why the Whites have gone for an inexperienced defender in Ben White, over more proven options.
Holgate, who even played on the right of midfield for West Brom last season, would be an excellent addition to the backline at Elland Road. Quick, agile and versatile, he is the perfect Bielsa player.
Leeds need centre-backs. Following the sale of Jansson, Leeds boast just White and captain Liam Cooper as recognised central defenders. Gaetano Berardi is more of a full-back, as is Luke Ayling.
Beating West Brom to Holgate would be a difficult task but one Leeds must pursue if they are to plug the central defensive gap left by Jansson’s surprise move to Brentford earlier this month.