Aston Villa will have to increase their initial offer if they are to make Fabian Delph their first signing of the summer after having a bid rejected by Leeds United.
The Elland Road club last night confirmed that they had turned down the advances of two Premier League clubs for Delph and were holding out for a higher fee.
Villa are known to be one of Delph’s suitors and must now decide whether to table an improved bid in order to win the tussle for the teenage midfielder’s signature.
Leeds issued a statement saying: “Leeds United can confirm that we have received offers direct from two Premier League clubs for Fabian Delph.
“The offers have been rejected. It is not the club’s usual policy to comment on speculation. However, in these circumstances we felt it appropriate to clarify the situation.”
After seeing Gareth Barry and Stuart Taylor depart for Manchester City and Martin Laursen retire through injury, Villa are keen to reinforce their squad.
However, with Leeds determined to play hardball over Delph, O’Neill may be forced to enter into an auction to secure one of the most promising players outside the Premier League.
Leeds manager and former Villa midfielder Simon Grayson admitted earlier this week that the 19-year-old would only be allowed to leave on the Elland Road club’s terms.
“He’s a talented player and there have been lots of inquiries but we want to keep hold of the player,” said Grayson.
‘‘He’s under contract and any decision on players leaving the football club has got to be the right decision for us and the player as well.
“But in football you never say never.”
Delph started his career with his hometown club Bradford City before joining Leeds in 2001 and making his first team debut at the end of the 2006-07 season.
Since then Delph has burst onto the scene in the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, four of Villa’s Premier League fixtures have been moved for live television coverage on Sky Sports.
They will now host Fulham on Sunday, August 30, at 4pm, travel to Birmingham City on Sunday, September 13, at noon, entertain Chelsea on Saturday, October 17, at 12.45pm, and visit Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, October 24, at 12.45pm.