The Liam Cooper to Leeds United saga seems to be off.
Spireites former Hull City central defender, who made the PFA’s Team of the Year for his key role in last season’s League Two Championship campaign, was being chased by the Yorkshire side after performing well against them last Saturday in a pre-season friendly.
Manager Paul Cook first got wind on Leeds’ interest during Monday night’s match at Staveley Miners Welfare when he received a call from United boss Dave Hockaday. Cooper was seemingly recommended to United by Nicola Salerno, an advisor of Leeds’ new Italian owner Massimo Cellino, who did not attend last weekend’s match.
Cooper, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday, the day two bids were rejected, had been left out off the team sheet for the midweek game at home to Aston Villa. That seemed to confirm that a move was odds-on but just before kick-off, United tweeted that, after a second bid had been rejected, they’d ended their interest in the player.
An unexpected second half appearance by Cooper against Villa subsequently substantiated that any imminent switch had all but broken down. Cooper seemed to have been lined up to replace Tom Lees at Elland Road; Lees subsequently signed for the Owls.
The final bid, believed to have been in the region of £475,000, prompted Spireites Chief Executive to say: “We were unwilling to accept the offer tabled by Leeds as it fell short of our valuation. Until a club matches the fee we feel Liam is worth, he will remain a Chesterfield player.”
It’s believed a fee around double that is being sought by the Proact Stadium side.
Spireites have no first team fixture this weekend but a side made up of youngsters, trialists and fringe first teamers will travel to Stonelow Road to play Dronfield United tonight for a 7pm kick-off match.
One man set to play is Michael Onovwigun, 18, who’s signed a year’s contract with an option for a second year after impressing during a pre-season trial. The tall midfielder, released by Brentford, prompted Cook to say: “We believe that Michael has a lot of potential and we view him as one for the future. Our Chief Scout, Paul Mitchell, brought him to the club after being alerted about his availability by one of our contacts in the London area.”