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Sunderland now plotting late January loan move for the ‘next Virgil van Dijk’

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Sunderland are interested in a defender who was previously dubbed the ‘next Virgil van Dijk’.

Sunderland only have days left of the January transfer window and are yet to bring in a new signing, despite being linked with the likes of Kieffer Moore, Callum Styles and Luke Thomas.

The latter opted to join Middlesbrough instead and has left the Black Cats still sweating over a new left-back, with Aji Alese, Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins all sidelined.

Michael Beale has opted to start Jenson Seelt in his place in Sunderland’s last two games, but the club remain eager to bolster their backline before Wednesday’s deadline.

According to journalist Alan Nixon, Sunderland are now interested in snapping up Leeds United’s Leo Hjelde on loan.

Nixon told his Patreon: “Sunderland want to do a deal with Leeds United for Norwegian defender Leo Fuhr Hjelde.

“The Black Cats want to take Hjelde on loan to give them competition at left back and left centre half.

“The clubs are promotion rivals but Leeds may let out Hjelde who spent last season at Rotherham on loan.”

The youngster has featured heavily for the U-21 side so far this term, while he has made three appearances for the senior team – though he hasn’t played in the Championship since the opening day draw against Cardiff.

Who is Leo Hjelde?

Born in Nottingham, Leo Hjelde started his youth career in Norway before joining Celtic in 2019.

The defender’s first taste of senior football was during a loan spell with Ross County, where he made eleven appearances in the Scottish Premiership and was heavily praised by manager John Hughes.

He said: ““One hundred percent, Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk. Trust me on that. I would love to see him make his debut for Celtic and become a regular. I would love nothing more to see him running out there.”

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