Former Leeds United forward Noel Whelan has claimed his surprise that academy star Callum Nicell decided to suddenly leave the club amid talk of a move to the Premier League.

The youngster was granted permission to find a new club by the Whites, and it was announced that he has left Elland Road by mutual consent last week.

The midfielder has had a trial with Leicester City and another unnamed Premier League team, but as yet has not fixed himself up with another side, adding a little bit of mystique to the situation, especially given that he still had a year left on his deal with Leeds.

The mystery and surprise nature of the move has got Whelan baffled, with the former striker admitting he did not see the development coming.

“I didn’t see this coming, to be honest, especially as everyone at the club seemed to think highly of him,” the Football Insider website quotes him as saying.

“He’s obviously ambitious and he doesn’t want to waste his time at Leeds if he isn’t going to make the first team.

“That’s up to him, and it shows that he backs himself to walk out on a contract. Leeds will have given him a percentage of what he would have earned over the season and he will hope to make up the remainder at a new club.

“That’s brave, in a way. Will Leeds regret it? Obviously, they don’t want their best young players to go, but you would think Marcelo Bielsa would have promoted him to the first team if he felt he was ready.

“He has backed young talent and given them lots of opportunities since he took over, so he obviously felt Nicell had some way to go.”

Assuming Nicell does end up in the Premier League, he will be the second member of the Leeds academy to move to the top flight, after Jack Clarke was purchased by Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, before being loaned back to the Yorkshire outfit for this season.

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