Premier League club now actively trying to sell “superb” Leeds target

Daniel Farke and Leeds United need to strengthen at right-back this month. Djed Spence has returned to parent club Tottenham Hotspur halfway through was meant to be a season-long loan spell, and Luke Ayling has joined Middlesbrough until the end of the season. If the gap goes unfilled, Farke may be concerned about being caught short as he bids to steer his side to promotion from the Championship.

One player who’s emerged as a target is West Ham’s Ben Johnson. The Athletic’s Phil Hay has named him as a player of interest for the Whites, with his ability to play in either full-back role no doubt a considerable draw. Significantly, there’s now been an update on Johnson’s availability in January.

West Ham make stance on Johnson clear

According to The Daily Mail, West Ham want to sell Leeds target Johnson, rather than loan him out. The player has rejected the offer of a new contract, and his current terms are due to expire in the summer, so that puts pressure on the Irons to cash in rather than risk losing him for nothing.


In addition, West Ham know that they could put the proceeds from the prospective sale towards a new attacker, which is on the agenda at the London Stadium in the next couple of weeks. Leeds’ interest is real but they have yet to make an “official approach” so the 49ers will need to stump up the cash soon, as Sheffield United and Scottish Premiership title-chasers Rangers are keeping an eye on his situation too.

Johnson has edge over Williams and Roberts

Former West Ham star Trevor Sinclair has previously dubbed Johnson, a two-time winner of West Ham’s young player of the year award, “superb”, but would he be the best fit for Farke?

He’s been limited to two Premier League appearances under David Moyes this season, only one from the start, but a couple of Leeds’ other targets in the top flight also find themselves down the pecking order. Nottingham Forest’s Neco Williams has only started four matches, while Burnley’s Connor Roberts hasn’t made the XI since late October. The table below compares the players in their experience, one-v-one defending and attacking output, all surely key criteria in Leeds’ search.




PL appearances




PL starts




PL minutes




Shot creating actions




Tackles won




Tackles lost




Tackle %




You can see that, even though there’s a disparity in appearances, they’re all in the same bracket for starts and broadly aligned for minutes too. Williams stands out going forward, and while he’s won the highest volume of tackles, it’s Johnson who has posted comfortably the best success rate. As an all-round option, then, he may have the edge on the other two, and crucially, he’s available for transfer. The big question now is how much West Ham will demand, and whether that’s within Leeds’ budget for the mid-season market.

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