Kisnorbo's contract nearing it's end

The list of players whose contracts run out at the end of the summer is a growing concern amongst Leeds United fans following news that Bradley Johnson has rejected a three year extension to his current deal.

Fans have a right to be concerned with The Yorkshire Evening post listing Neil Kilkenny, Davide Somma, Luciano Becchio, Richard Naylor, Andrew Hughes and Patrick Kisnorbo amongst the other players yet to sign a new deal.

After Sky Sports broke the news of Johnson’s rejected contract offer yesterday, Leeds United released a statement admitting that all the out-of-contract players were still in negotiations and that the club were committed to continuing negotiations within a ‘manageable wage structure’.

But the sheer quantity of players nearing the end of their contract begs the question – did we learn nothing from the Jermaine Beckford saga?

Of course, some of the players nearing the end of their contract wouldn’t be a huge loss. Andrew Hughes for example rarely gets a start in the first team, Richard Naylor is getting on in years and Bradley Johnson is definitely replaceable.

The two names that do stand out from the above list however, are key players Patrick Kisnorbo and Davide Somma. Despite his continual injury problems, Patrick Kisnorbo proved himself to be a real warrior at the heart of Leeds United’s defence last season, and his absence from the first team has been a huge blow to the club.

Davide Somma meanwhile is starting to attract a lot of attention after scoring 9 goals in his 14 appearances for Leeds United to date. South Aftica’s national team coach is already toying with the idea of a call-up and in current form, there’s bound to be other Championship clubs – if not Premier League clubs – sniffing around Thorp Arch ready to pounce.

So where do we point the finger when January comes around and we have another Jermaine Beckford saga on our hands? Well, it has to be Ken Bates but I’m not sure I’d have handled the situation any differently.

As we approached the end of the 2009-10 campaign it was impossible to determine where Leeds United would be playing their football this season so contract negotiations at that point would have been extremely difficult. The players would have expected Championship salaries, but the chairman would have to proceed with some caution in case promotion wasn’t achieved. The inevitable difficulties are probably why the club decided to wait until the summer.

But the summer passed without resolution and it now seems Ken Bates’ financial caution may have backfired dramatically as Leeds United face the possibility of several players – with a combined price-tag of several million – leaving for absolutely nothing. With this in mind, maybe we’ve been a little over-cautious?

Maybe it was better to take the risk and sign them up early? At least that way we’d have a saleable asset that could inject some funds back into the club?

Or maybe it’s a case of ‘once bitten, twice shy?’ With expensive players like Andy Robinson bringing a carbon footprint to the reserve team parking lot, I can understand why Leeds United are reluctant to dish out too many long-term contracts!