Leeds United close to admitting defeat with Forestieri deal

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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Leeds United are preparing to move on from their pursuit of Fernando Forestieri amid growing doubt about the striker’s willingness to move to Elland Road.

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Leeds struck a deal with Watford for the 25-year-old last week but have struggled to establish firm talks with Forestieri and are no longer confident of finalising the signing.

United owner Massimo Cellino was committed to paying over £3m for Forestieri after negotiating a deal with Watford’s Italian owners, the Pozzo family, but the move has not moved forward and Leeds are considering their options with the summer transfer window set to close next week.

Watford intend to sell Forestieri before the September 1 deadline but the striker is said to be looking for a club in the south of England, with Reading also interested in signing him.

He was photographed at Queens Park Rangers’ 4-2 win over Rotherham United on Saturday and unexpectedly appeared on the bench during Watford’s 0-0 draw with Southampton the following day.

The Italian agency who represent Forestieri, Studio Canovi, were asked to comment but have not responded.

The former Udinese player became a prime target of United’s last week and his arrival was seen as a priority deal by Cellino.

Leeds have alternative targets, however, and could now intensify their interest in Belgian winger Anthony Limbombe, a prospect who Cellino has been tracking throughout the summer.

A bid of £1.5m from United was rejected by Limbombe’s existing club, NEC Nijmegen, at the start of this month but Limbombe’s future is in serious doubt after he was left out of a game against Ajax on Saturday, accused by NEC of being “insufficiently focused”.

The Dutch side look prepared to sell the 21-year-old if his valuation is met but their director Bart van Ingen insisted on Sunday that NEC had “no concrete offer” for Limbombe.

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