Leeds United manager Steve Evans has revealed his delight at securing the services of Liam Bridcutt for the rest of the season. The Sunderland midfielder has been at Elland Road on an emergency loan basis since late November, but that deal officially expired after he featured for 90 minutes of the 1-1 Championship draw with MK Dons on 2 January.
Bridcutt, a former Chelsea youth graduate who built his reputation under Gus Poyet at Brighton and Hove Albion before joining the Uruguayan at the Stadium of Light, has made eight consecutive starts during his short stint in West Yorkshire to date, a marked improvement after failing to make a single senior appearance for his parent club in 2015/16. Such a seamless transition to life back in the Championship has clearly pleased the player, who earlier this week claimed that he would be happy to make the move permanent.
Reciprocating that enthusiasm, Evans stated that re-signing Bridcutt was his key priority during the January transfer window. Speaking to Leeds' official website after the extension was confirmed, he said: "I'm really pleased to have my number one target on board at this early stage of the window. I like players who prove a point and Liam has done exactly that since he first arrived. He's made a big impression here and has become a fans' favourite in short space of time.
"Liam has consistently produced performances of an extremely high standard for us, which is all the more impressive when you consider he hadn't played any league football this season prior to joining. He's fitted into the group seamlessly and getting him signed up again comes as very positive news for us to start the New Year with. We've got him until the end of the season but if he continues the way he has been playing, then it puts us in a good position to speak to Sunderland about keeping him in the summer."
The possibility of Bridcutt leaving Sunderland on a full-time deal over the summer seems very likely indeed. Sam Allardyce has previously suggested that it would be beneficial for all parties if a permanent solution could be found, while also expressing his surprise that the one-cap Scottish international did not once again reunite with Poyet in the latter's new role as manager of Greek Superleague outfit AEK Athens.
"It'd be a better option for him and us if we could sell him, no doubt about that," he was quoted as saying by The Chronicle in December. "Certainly, his career needs to get back on track and realistically, his career is not at Leeds and not here.
"Liam has not been happy with not having the chance in the first team and needed to get away and play some football. I personally thought he'd have gone with Gus to Greece. Gus spoke about him so highly, but I don't know if that was an option. I never got a call from Gus anyway."