Leeds United registered an interest in Leo Hjelde before his move to Ross County in the winter transfer window.

The 17-year-old has been a regular figure for the Staggies since joining the Scottish Premiership side from Celtic on loan in January. He has featured nine time for Ross County but there was Leeds United interest prior to his arrival.

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Leeds United are fans of Hjelde. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Highland manager John Hughes has hailed the defender as ‘the next Van Dijk’, confirming that Marcelo Bielsa’s side were keen on taking the defender down south before his first taste of senior football. Last week, the Norwegian was linked with a move to fellow Premier League side Southampton.

Hughes believes Hjelde ‘signed an extension at Celtic for the loan to go through’ amidst interest from Leeds United. The Premier League club haven’t been shy in their interest of Premiership talent, tracking Hibs pair Josh Doig and Ethan Laidlaw.

Ross County drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock on Saturday as they remained one place above the Premiership relegation places with four games to go. Hughes opted for an experienced side in Ayrshire but says the younger players have responded well.

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Hjelde’s tracked down south by Leeds United. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Hughes said: “They have been great as we have touched on it. It’s not about individuals or ego at this time, it’s about the team. They will have a part to play as well in terms of the younger guys having better legs. Everyone has played a good part. They have had ups and downs but it’s a collective effort.”

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