Twitter blew up today with the leaked news of Sam Byram's sale to Roberto Martinez and Everton. With Martinez' head scout in attendance Tuesday at Ipswich specifically to watch Byram, and with the last-minute loss leaving Leeds 12 points back of the playoffs, this is not a surprise move by Cellino and company. Byram's contract situation has been up in the air for months, and with the potential of losing him for nothing this summer, Cellino had to either pay the boy big money or salvage something in return. And with teams like Leicester and West Ham knocking, you had to think Byram wouldn't be in Leeds for much longer... but man, this stings.
The transfer was first reported by Adam Pope, around 1:30pm ET (6:30 pm BT):
Pretty quickly from there, sources were confirming the deal was done, and Phil Hay of the YEP followed with the possible value of the bid:
Right, being told value of bid is close to £4m, plus incentives. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 14, 2016
With Cellino saying bids of £5m had already been rejected, surely £4m will seem like a lost opportunity to Leeds fans, but I'd remind everyone £4m is better than £0m.
This, of course, is where it really hurts. Byram was the hope for the future, with 143 appearances for the Whites, and now looks likely to be the next "hope for the future" out the window. Will Cellino bother replacing him for the remainder of the 2016 season? Will Sam's departure be just the first in this round of January heartbreak transfers for the Leeds faithful? Are Mowatt and Cook next? Or was this the necessary sale Cellino had to suffer in order to bring in the talent that pushes us upward? Isn't it better to lose him this way than on a free transfer come summer?
So goes life in the Championship, I guess. We really need to win games like Tuesday night's at Ipswich if we're ever going to be the team buying in these windows and not selling.
If he really is gone: Sam, thank you for your time at Elland Road, we wish you nothing but the best. And, Cellino: you better make that £4m count.
(Update: looks to be £3.7 million according to the Yorkshire Evening Post. Alright, then.)