Cardiff, Swansea and three more EFL sides in transfer battle for Premier League club's Hearts academy product

The midfielder has shone in League OneThe midfielder has shone in League One
The midfielder has shone in League One

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The midfielder progressed through the Hearts academy before moving to Brighton, and now both Cardiff and Swansea are keen.

Hearts academy product Marc Leonard is set to leave Brighton on a permanent basis this summer, with the English Championship a likely destination.

The Scottish midfielder has shone on loan in League One with Northampton, and is contracted to his parent Premier League club until 2025, with the option of a further year. It’s claimed by the Athletic that “Coventry, Preston, Swansea, Plymouth and Cardiff have all been linked with interest in signing the 22-year-old.”

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His imminent sale will ‘alert’ sides in the second tier of English football, it’s suggested. Leonard spent four years in the Hearts academy before moving to Brighton in 2018. He has opened up on the initial difficulties he found in swapping the Tynecastle youth ranks for England.

Leonard said: “My first few years at Brighton were tricky, coming from Scotland. It’s a whole different ball game, coming down into a Premier League environment. I don’t think I realised how difficult it was going to be, because I was so excited to get down and get started playing football for a team in the Premier League.

“I didn’t think about it much at that age. You don’t realise. You are with people you have never met before. A host family that you have met a few times to choose if that is the right place for you and to settle in.

“You’ve left your family, which you probably don’t realise is so important at that age. Even your mum and dad just dropping you to training, that can’t happen any more.

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“It was a whole different life and it was challenging, because of the distance as well. It couldn’t have been any further away from Glasgow. I remember telling my girlfriend, who I am still with now. We looked for (Brighton) on the map and just kept scrolling down… ‘where is it?!’

“But as soon as I got there, I loved it. I was always going to stick it out and make it work. It’s totally changed my outlook on every single thing about the game — on the pitch, off the pitch, mentally, physically… everything. That has increased year by year. Being on loan is almost like learning on the job, different things, little dark arts and stuff to pick up.”

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