Leeds United passed on the opportunity to sign Liverpool starlet Ovie Ejaria because of a long-term injury the player recently suffered, according to All Nigeria Soccer.
Garry Monk was poised to bring the 19-year-old to Elland Road on a loan deal to the end of the season as the Whites look to continue an impressive tilt towards the automatic promotion places.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 1, 2017
The deal had been sanctioned by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with the former Borussia Dortmund head coach famous for his insistence on the first-team development of young players.
The central midfielder could well have been a replacement for the departed Alex Mowatt, who left his hometown club to chase regular first team action at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
Any whisper of a potential move was abolished though when Klopp confirmed Ejaria had suffered a ligament injury in the shock FA Cup defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
““I don’t exactly know how this works but he got a knock in the first half, half-time he got treatment, and everybody was asking if it was good [and he said] it was good, ” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“I couldn’t see anything in the second half and he woke up the next morning and it was [swollen]. These boys really want [to play] – if there’s any doubt about it – even the very young ones.
“Now he’s obviously out for a while. [The syndesmosis] is a ligament between the shin bone and the [ankle]. ”
Ejaria, who is still available to represent either Nigeria or England, made the switch to Merseyside following nine years in the Arsenal academy.
That change has paid dividends for the young midfielder, with esteemed manager Klopp selecting the player in several first team squads this season.
Leeds, who signed Alfonso Pedraza and Modou Barrow on loan deals this Deadline Day, have been in sensational form this term and have firmly cemented their place in the play-offs.
A 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night ensured Monk’s side maintained pace with fellow high-flyers Reading and, with title favourites Newcastle United slipping up at home to Queens Park Rangers, the Elland Road faithful could still be dreaming of an automatic return to the Premier League after a 14-year absence.