Leeds United: Milan’s Zan the man for United

Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino

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LEEDS UNITED have secured their sixth pre-season signing in the shape of young AC Milan play-maker Zan Benedicic – and are now set to focus their attentions on bolstering their defence and attack.

Slovenian Under-21 player Benedicic, 18, has joined on a season-long loan with United having an option to buy him permanently, subject to international clearance.

Benedicic’s arrival ends a two-and-a-half week long lull in recruitment by United following the signing of Swiss full-back Geatano Berardi with president Massimo Cellino and sporting director Nicola Salerno working on getting several other deals over the line in time for the Championship opener at Millwall in four days time.

Salerno has revealed that United remain in the hunt to buy players in defence, attack and midfield, with the first two areas likely to be the priority.

Top of the list is Juventus defender Frederic Sorensen with rumours linking United with in-demand FC Tours striker Andy Delort, subject of interest from a host of English clubs, also refusing to go away.

Leeds are locked in talks with Juve about taking Danish centre-half Sorensen, 22, with the squad down on defensive numbers following the decision to let Tom Lees join Sheffield Wednesday and the rejection of their £475,000 bid for Chesterfield stopper Liam Cooper.

United want Sorensen, who has spent the last two seasons at Bologna, co-owned by the Rossoblu and Juve, on loan and are hoping to work in an option to sign him on a full-time basis next summer.

Despite being highly-regarded at Under-19 level at the San Siro, Benedicic is well down the senior squad’s pecking order and is yet to feature for the first team, coached by former striker Filippo Inzaghi.

Upon hearing of United’s interest, Benedicic quickly expressed his desire to join and flew home early from Milan’s pre-season tour of the USA seven days ago in an attempt to push the transfer to Leeds forward.

On a how a move to Leeds would appeal, Benedicic, speaking recently, said: “This opportunity is very good to me.

“They wanted me intensely and I have always liked English football. My first goal? To achieve a place in the starting XI.”

Benedicic becomes United’s fifth signing from Italian football, following the earlier acquisitions of Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi, Souleymane Doukara and Berardi.

Leeds’ other close-season capture was veteran keeper Stuart Taylor, likely to provide back-up to no.1 Silvestri.

Meanwhile, the agent of another of United’s Serie A targets, Roma midfielder Federico Viviani, has attempted to clarify the situation following his client’s decision to sign for ambitious Serie B outfit Latina.

The protracted transfer saga regarding Viviani has now ended in him staying in his homeland to join Latina despite the Italy U21 schemer spending three days in England late last month discussing a deal with Leeds.

Viviani, 22, flew back to Rome with an agreement not reached on a move to Leeds, prompting his move to Latina, who he played for on loan last term.

Viviani’s agent Giovanni Ferro said: “In regards to the statements from president Cellino, I would like to clarify a few things.

“First of all, I thank the president for the opportunity to go to Leeds and the nice words about Federico.

“Once again, he has proved himself to be a connoisseur of football.

“In any case, from our side, there was no game being played.

“The player has made a choice and that is that he wants to complete what he missed out on by a whisker last year (promotion to Serie A).

“I thank president Cellino and director Salerno and I wish for Leeds to win the Championship title.

“At the same time, I thank Latina Calcio for the great opportunity offered to Federico to complete his work and realise his dream.”

Former United academy coach and defender Leigh Bromby is set to join the coaching staff at West Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield Town.

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