Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa has revealed why Niall Huggins will be allowed to leave Elland Road this season.
Sunderland appear to be closing in on their seventh signing of the summer – with Huggins said to be undergoing his medical.
The Black Cats were believed to be in advanced talks with the 20-year-old over a permanent move to the Stadium of Light.
Championship clubs Blackburn and Blackpool were also said to be tracking the situation, yet Sunderland have been leading the chase to sign the versatile defender who can play left-back and right-back.
However, Bielsa hinted at a possible loan move or buy-back clause involving Huggins and explained his reasoning behind allowing the player to depart earlier this afternoon.
Speaking ahead of Leeds United’s Premier League fixture with Everton on Sunday, Bielsa said of the Huggins situation: “Nothing has happened we hadn't looked at before.
"These young players – [Ryan] Edmondson, Niall [Huggins], [Robbie] Gotts, [Jordan] Stevens – part of the under-23s in previous seasons.
“They have a process of development. When they peak in this development, like with each of these named, they have to compete with a very small group chosen for the season.
"In this case [Huggins]: [Luke] Ayling, [Stuart] Dallas and [Jamie] Shackleton play in his position. He hasn't got the chances to overcome these players at the club.
"If I keep him at the club rather than aid his development, I hinder it. If the youngsters are not here, there comes a moment they need to look for higher competition than the 23s because progress would be stalled.
"All our expectation is they compete outside the club for a year and we find an evolution that invites them back into the fold.
"Without exception, every player out on loan I see every week because it's my function, you grow a bond between these players, an affection. Alfie [McCalmont] and [Leif] Davis too. We desire it goes well for them and to bring them back.
"They made big efforts to be in the group and we accompanied them.”