Phil Hay predicts big-money Leeds player to join Middle Eastern club

Helder Costa will depart Leeds United and return to the Middle East, according to Phil Hay.

The Athletic journalist claimed in The Square Ball Podcast (18 August) that following his loan spell at Al Ittihad last season, he will likely return to Saudi Arabia as there is minimal interest in the winger.

With calls for the Angolan to return to Leeds’ first team in the wake of a mass departure of attacking talent, Hay argues that the club have “made their bed” on the decision to sell Costa.

Speaking on The Square Ball Podcast, Hay said: “There doesn’t seem to be any massive interest in him. He was in the Middle East last season, I think he’ll go back to the Middle East.

Phil Hay predicts big-money Leeds player to join Middle Eastern club

“He was ahead of the curve, wasn’t he? His contract is starting to run down, he hasn’t been involved for ages. I sort of think moving him on makes sense.

“The Birmingham game is a slight red herring in the sense that Leeds have made the decision weeks and weeks earlier that Costa isn’t training with the first team squad, he’s leaving, we’re all agreed.

“Then you get to the Birmingham game and Gnonto isn’t travelling, Sinisterra isn’t travelling, you’ve got Shackleton on the right-hand side. You can’t suddenly say let’s chuck Helder Costa in. They made their bed with that one and he has to go.”

Time to go

Costa has not played for Leeds for nearly two years after successive loan spells with Valencia and Al Ittihad. The £15million man is surplus to requirements at Elland Road now, even in the Championship.

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Both the club and the player are on the same page in regards to the former Benfica man’s future. In a recent press conference, Daniel Farke made this point very clear.

As quoted by LeedsLive (15 August), Farke said: “Helder, it’s clear, so we were quite open. He was quite open, at any point, he wants to leave the club and there will be a decision.View Tweet

“So, more or less, from the beginning of pre-season he was not in our plans and we were not in his plan so it’s fair to think there will be a solution.”

So he is not, and has not, been in Farke’s mind when entering the new season. While he could have been a good asset for the Whites in the Championship, especially considering Leeds’ thinning frontline options, it seems the feelings between the two are mutual.

As to where Costa will end up, it is not clear. Hay’s prediction feels likely following Costa’s loan to the Saudi Arabian side last season and he could be the latest European player to join the growing Saudi league.

Either way, his four years at Elland Road look to be over.