FORMER Champions League winner Jerzy Dudek has emerged as a surprise candidate to become Leeds United’s first-choice goalkeeper next season, the Yorkshire Post understands.The 38-year-old is one of several targets being spoken to by the Elland Road club as part of the search for Kasper Schmeichel’s replacement.United manager Simon Grayson had wanted Keiren Westwood but the out-of-contract Coventry City man instead signed for Premier League Sunderland, while other names to be linked with a possible move to Yorkshire include former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Lee Grant and Fraser Forster of Newcastle United.Dudek is available on a free transfer after leaving Real Madrid at the end of last season after playing second fiddle to Iker Casillas to such an extent that he made just two La Liga appearances in four years.The former Poland international, who lifted the Champions League in 2005 when wearing Liverpool’s colours, was recently linked with a possible return to the Premier League with Aston Villa.
When asked about the possibility of finding a new club after leaving the Bernabeu earlier this month, Dudek said: “I have not thought about hanging up my boots yet. Look at Jens Lehmann, who returned when requested by Arsenal.
“My family is very happy in Spain and in Madrid so my priority is to not change the country.
“But I have an offer from Spain, and from Turkey and England. What is clear is that wherever I go, I have to play.
“Although I have been happy at Real Madrid and I consider it to be my home, it is now time to play again.”
Dudek’s final appearance for the Spanish giants came in an 8-1 win over Almeria last month in La Liga.
He was substituted near the end and afforded a guard of honour back to the bench by his Real team-mates along with a standing ovation from the Bernabeu faithful. Dudek started at Polish side GKS Tychy before moving to Feyenoord in Holland in 1995 and then Anfield six years later. He played in both of the Reds’ Champions League final meetings with AC Milan in 2005 and 2007.
United have made just one signing this summer, Paul Rachubka having joined on a free transfer from Blackpool last week.
The Elland Road hierarchy did say last week, however, that transfer activity was likely to kick into gear as June moves into July.
Grayson wants to bring in a goalkeeper, left-back and central defender, while also bolstering the centre of a midfield that has lost Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny to Norwich City and Bristol City respectively on free transfers since the end of last season.
Robert Snodgrass and Player of the Year Max Gradel have also been linked with a move away with Norwich wanting the Scot and West Ham having joined Swansea and Fulham in keeping an eye on the Ivorian.