Sheffield Wednesday: Wanted Tom Lees is a vital cog in the Owls machine
Tom Lees dreams of one day playing in the Premier League.
The ideal scenario for the classy defender would be to realise his life ambition with Sheffield Wednesday.
It has so far been a largely successful marriage.
But the team’s 1-0 Play-Off final loss to Hull City last month condemned Carlos Carvalhal’s charges to a fifth consecutive season in the Championship.
The Wembley defeat left Lees utterly devastated, prompting him to describe it as the “hardest moment” of his footballing career.
Following that “horrendous” experience, will Lees choose to remain or leave Hillsborough this summer?
Newly-promoted Burnley have already expressed an interest in Lees’ services. It has been nothing more than that at this stage but it is unlikely the Clarets will be the last club from the top division to inquire about the 25-year-old’s availability.
In my opinion, it was always going to be a matter of time before a Premier League club checked out Lees. Call me biased but I think he is one, if not the best, defenders in the Football League. You could probably count on one hand how many mistakes Lees has made in his 91 Wednesday starts.
Lees has barely put a foot wrong and been the cornerstone of Wednesday’s backline, helping them keep 17 league clean sheets in each of the last two campaigns.
What is in the Owls’ favour in their attempts to hang on to Lees is that the player himself is enjoying his football at S6. He loves the club and has three years left on his current contract.
And as Carlos Carvalhal has been quick to stress, Wednesday are under no pressure to sell their prized assets. It would take an astronomical bid for them to even consider letting Lees go.
Lees is the type of player you build a team around. Cashing in on him would send out the wrong message.
If anything, the priority for the Owls before their league opener with Aston Villa on August 7 has to be signing defensive reinforcements. It is up to the Owls’ hierarchy to make the right noises and persuade Lees that the club remain capable of matching his aspirations.