Hjelde is currently playing under Hughes on a six month-long loan deal at Ross County from Scottish giants Celtic, having left Glasgow in January.


The 17-year-old is yet to break into the Hoops senior squad, but is highly rated at the club and has had admirers from south of the border, according to Hughes.



The Ross County boss revealed that Premier League side Leeds were on the tail of the Celtic starlet before he came to the Global Energy Stadium in the last transfer window.


Hughes dubbed Hjelde the next Van Dijk, explaining that the teenager has shown his quality by holding his own against senior players in the Scottish top flight.



“Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk – trust me on that”, Hughes was quoted as saying by BBC Scotland.


“The quality he has shown, the physical challenge, playing real men’s football and standing up to it – it’s been a wonderful experience for Leo.



“Before he came, Leeds United were after him.


“I think he had to sign an extension to his contract for the loan to go through.”


It remains to be seen whether Leeds will rekindle their interest in the centre-back when the summer transfer window swings open.