Leeds United have reportedly taken a big step towards signing Leo Hjelde, as they are in advanced talks with Celtic for the 17-year-old defender.
According to a report by Football Insider, Leeds United appear set to sign Leo Hjelde from Celtic in the summer transfer window. The Whites are in advanced talks with the Scottish giants over a move for the 17-year-old defender, who has been dubbed the “new van Dijk”.
Leo Hjelde joined Celtic from Rosenborg in the summer of 2019, heading straight to the Scottish heavyweights’ reserve side, despite only being 15 years old at the time. Still only 17, the Norwegian defender, who has been called the “new van Dijk” in many circles is yet to make his bow for Celtic’s first-team.
The teenage defender spent the second half of last season with Ross County, going on to amass 12 appearances for the Scottish outfit. And this summer, he looks set to leave Celtic for good after having entered the final year of his deal at the club. Hjelde’s next destination appears to be the Premier League, with Leeds United keen on signing him.
Leeds United had been hot on the trails of the 17-year-old in the January transfer window, only to lose out to Ross County back then. However, ahead of the 2021/22 season, the Whites seem to have pulled clear of any potential competition by offering a contract to him, with the player himself “very keen” on making the switch to Elland Road.
The West Yorkshire outfit are now in advanced talks to sign Hjelde and are confident of securing the services of the prodigious Norwegian defender. The 17-year-old has famously been compared to Virgil van Dijk by former Ross County manager John Hughes, who told BBC Sport, “He will reach the Premier League. Leo is going to be the next Virgil van Dijk, trust me on that, trust me.”
Hjelde will be the fourth teenage prospect to join Leeds this summer following the arrival of Lewis Bate, Amari Miller and Sean McGurk. Interestingly, Leeds have not been in the market for a centre-back this summer after having signed Robin Koch and Diego Llorente last summer.
However, the arrival of someone like Hjelde ought to set Leeds up for years, seeing as captain Liam Cooper will turn 30 next month. For now, it looks like the 17-year-old is set to leave Celtic this summer to join the Whites, and it will be interesting to see how he fares at Elland Road whenever he breaks into their first-team setup.