Leeds Utd chief reveals why ‘done’ deal involving Liverpool star collapsed; confirms Italy superstar transfer rumours
Majority Leeds Utd owner Andrea Radrizzani revealed who was to blame after a move for a current Liverpool star collapsed, while he also confirmed the rumours surrounding an Italy ace.
Leeds Utd were known to be hunting reinforcements in the final third last summer. Bids were tabled for Belgium international Charles De Ketelaere, though the former Club Brugge man only had eyes for AC Milan.
Luis Sinisterra did arrive from Feyenoord, but the Colombian wasn’t the only Eredivisie winger in Leeds’ sights. The Whites also pursued Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo who played for PSV Eindhoven at the time.
Reports later emerged Leeds had chartered a private jet that would’ve brought Gakpo to England on deadline day of the summer window. However, despite a deal reportedly being ‘done’, Gakpo got cold feet.
Explaining why, majority Leeds owner Radrizzani pointed the finger of blame at former Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal.
“We were so close to signing Cody Gakpo,” Radrizzani told DAZN (via the Yorkshire Post). “It was done on August deadline day, done with PSV too. Then it collapsed because of Van Gaal”
“Van Gaal called Gakpo and told him to wait for because of the World Cup – then he joined Liverpool.”
Speculation Van Gaal had urged Gakpo to remain in the Netherlands where he was guaranteed to be the focal point at PSV ahead of the World Cup had done the rounds. Via Radrizzani, it’s now been confirmed.
Elsewhere, Radrizzani shed light on his side’s chases for De Ketelaere, Bamba Dieng and Nicolo Zaniolo.
De Ketelaere, Dieng, Zaniolo sagas all addressed
Dieng was the subject of an agreed deal between Leeds and Marseille over the summer, though the forward spurned the chance to join Leeds in favour of signing at Nice.
In a remarkable turn of events, Dieng then failed his medical with Nice and was forced to remain with Marseille. He subsequently joined Lorient six months later in January.
“We wanted De Ketelaere — then we almost signed Bamba on deadline day, it was crazy,” continued Radrizzani.
“It collapsed and we anticipated (brought forward) Willy Gnonto deal that was already in place for 2023. I’m proud of Willy, top talent but also an excellent guy.”
Finally, Radrizzani confirmed the rumours Leeds were eyeing up a shock swoop for Italy ace Nicolo Zaniolo in January.
Roma put the 23-year-old attacker up for sale and received an offer from Bournemouth. Tottenham too were heavily linked.
Zaniolo rejected the Cherries and a move to Spurs never came after they instead hijacked Everton’s loan move for Arnaut Danjuma.
That left the door ajar for Leeds who were widely speculated to be courting Zaniolo.
“We explored a potential swap deal to sign Nicolò Zaniolo in January,” confirmed the Leeds chief (via Fabrizio Romano). “But it was not possible to proceed.
“AS Roma had no space available for extra-EU players.”
Zaniolo would ultimately go on to join Turkish giant Galatasaray in a deal that could hit £26m if future add-ons are met.
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