The genius swap deal that could drag both Leeds and Everton out of a financial hole

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Leeds United are likely to sell off their star players this summer - but a likely deal with Everton could help as well as hinder.

Having missed out on promotion to the Premier League after losing to Southampton in the Championship play-off final, Leeds United have a lot of work ahead of them this summer – there is growing interest in several of their star players and a pressing need to keep the books balanced to ensure they don’t get caught out by the profit and sustainability rules. For manager Daniel Farke and chairman Paraag Marathe, the summer holidays will be over very quickly.

Winger Crysencio Summerville and the versatile Archie Gray, both courted by Liverpool and other Premier League clubs, are very likely to leave for substantial sums, but something approaching a fire sale will be necessary as the club looks to trim its budget. It has been reported that the club still owe £190m in transfer fees racked up over the past few years, and any and all saleable assets will likely be offered up to ensure the deficit remains manageable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That will mean a few tearful farewells, but it will also necessitate some extremely sharp work in the transfer market – Leeds will have a lot of players to replace, and they will need to do so on a budget in order to make the sums add up. Selling the likes of Summerville and Gray for large amounts will probably be fairly straightforward – replacing them for far less much harder. As Marathe put it in the wake of the defeat at Wembley, “we need to make trade-offs.”

Two other players who are unlikely to feature at Elland Road next season are winger Jack Harrison and centre-half Joe Rodon.The former spent last year on loan at Everton and it’s believed that the Toffees are interested in making his deal permanent, while Welshman Rodon was himself on loan from Tottenham Hotspur – Leeds would likely love to keep him around, but his performances have reportedly attracted interest from the lower reaches of the Premier League, and there is a very good chance that he heads elsewhere.

That will leave Leeds with a couple of gaps to fill, with centre-half being a key one. Even if they only find a short term solution, they need someone who can fill Rodon’s boots and offer up some of his defensive rigidity, physical presence and composure on the ball. Such defenders are in limited supply at the lower levels.

Everton’s interest in Harrison could present a solution. While Leeds will want to recoup as much of the £11m they spent to sign him from Manchester City in the first place, Everton are operating under severe financial constraints themselves and are also in a position where they may be forced to sell key assets like Amadou Onana and Jarrad Branthwaite. Finding a price point which represents fair value while aligning with both clubs’ fiscal needs may not be straightforward.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Everton also have a player they want off their books – former England international centre-back Michael Keane, who has fallen out of favour at Goodison Park. He started just four Premier League matches all season and has made just two substitute appearances in all competitions in 2024. Now 31 years old and with just one year left on his contract, the club are keen to move him on and the player is likely happy to find a suitable exit route.

It's unlikely that many Premier League sides would push for his services despite his years of experience. His lack of top-end pace has proven costly in the current era of top-flight football, where forwards are getting faster by the year and the physical demands of defensive work are increasing constantly, but he’s still canny, strong in the air and solid enough in the tackle.

It’s true that he doesn’t pass the ball as comfortably as Rodon does – although in truth, using passing stats from a Sean Dyche team often makes players appear less comfortable with the ball than they are – but there is no particular reason that all his know-how shouldn’t translate to being able to do a job in the second tier.

The obvious stumbling block would be wages. Keane is set to be paid £80,000 per week for the next year, more than any Leeds player in the current squad (Patrick Bamford and Georginio Rutter are reported to be the top earners on £70,000 a week each), and he would certainly have to take a pay cut – but that’s the inevitable cost he will have to pay if he wants first team football again.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It wouldn’t necessarily be a flashy or thrilling signing, but it would make sense on many levels – Leeds get a reliable performer at centre-back who may well be hungry to prove himself once more, Everton get to sign Jack Harrison for a reduced fee while getting someone they need off the books to leave. Swap deals aren’t exactly common currency in the modern game, but this could be an example of a “trade-off” that would keep Leeds’ paymasters happy while giving their manager something to work with next season.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.