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Possible Leeds United target in captaincy row after contract dispute

Brentford’s Harlee Dean told he’s stripped of his captaincy until he signs a new contract with the West London club

Brentford v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Brentford’s Harlee Dean has been told he will no longer be captain at the West London club until he signs a new contract. Brentford manager Dean Smith is quoted by West London Sport as saying, “At the moment he’s in a little bit of limbo with contract negotiations and while that’s going on I think it’s right that somebody else carries the armband at the moment. We’ve had no bids from anybody. His representatives have been in talks with the football club but I’m sure his representatives are also pitching him round to other clubs as well. He’s fully committed to the cause and I’ve got a great relationship with Harlee.”

Now West London Sport is reporting that Brentford is interested in getting about £2 million for the 26 year old central defender, with Leeds United, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday all reportedly circling with the contract dispute dragging out.

Dean has been at Griffin Park since 2012, and has made almost 250 appearances for the Championship club, assisting them gain promotion from League One after the 2013-14 season. He started his playing career at East London’s Dagenham and Redbridge and was signed by Southampton when the Saints were in League One, but never made a senior appearance for the south coast club, instead spending his time at loan around the fringes of Greater London, appearing for non-League teams like Bishop’s Stortford and Grays Athletic.

With Leeds short on central defenders, this move would make sense, as Dean is an experienced leader at the back. However, this move will likely depend on the health of Everton loanee Matthew Pennington who impressed in his debut for Leeds at Bolton Wanderers before being subbed off with an ankle injury in the second half. Leeds Head Coach Thomas Christiansen seems pleased with young Pennington, and indicated in his press conference today that another central defender would only be considered if Pennington is due to be out for an extended period of time.

Many Leeds fans are concerned with the lack of depth at the back, and for good reason, as Leeds played without a recognized central defender at the back for most of the match against Port Vale in the League cup this week, instead using young defensive midfielder Conor Shaughnessy and Manchester United loanee fullback Cameron Borthwick-Jackson as the central defensive pair after Luke Ayling came off in the second half.

Signing Dean would be a relatively inexpensive option for Leeds, and it would solidify the back end. Of course, given the quality of Pennington and with the return Pontus Jansson, Dean might not fancy a move to West Yorkshire to sit on the bench. If Pennington is going to be out for any period of time, however, this move would make perfect sense for the club, and the rumored fee is much better than the king’s ransom that Bristol City reportedly want for Aden Flint. Dean might be an option if Pennington can’t return to first team action for an extended period of time, and could help the club fill in the gaps at the back.