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Leeds United: Gradel eyes Ivory Coast call up

Max Gradel is hoping that his January transfer to Leeds United will pave the way for an international career with the Ivory Coast.

But the young winger admits he has left it too late to aim seriously for inclusion when the African nation take part in this summer's World Cup.

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Gradel sealed his transfer to Leeds from Leicester City on Monday afternoon, completing a move that he was desperate to make but began to fear would never happen.

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The 22-year-old was forced to submit a transfer request to Leicester after talks between City and United dragged on for a week, and the clubs agreed a fee 24 hours later, paving the way for Leeds to sign him on a two-and-half year contract.

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Gradel moved to Yorkshire with the express intention of securing the first-team football which eluded him at the Walkers Stadium, but he is keen to see his international ambitions enhanced with a country who have become increasingly competitive in recent years.

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The Ivory Coast have never used him in an international fixture and did not consider Gradel for this month's African Cup of Nations, and he conceded that there was little prospect of him making his debut in the World Cup in South Africa.

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But Gradel said: "There's maybe a chance after the World Cup. At the moment there are too many big stars involved, the guys who are playing Premiership football.

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"But if I work hard then maybe something will happen and I hope my chance will come."

Gradel became Leeds' first signing of the winter transfer window and the winger set his heart on a permanent switch to Elland Road after impressing Grayson during a three-month spell on loan with Leeds.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson hoped to retain him beyond the end of this month but bowed to Gradel's desire to move on having been unable to promise the youngster that he would feature regularly in City's first 11.

Gradel said: "It's very good for me to be here. It's a chance to finally settle down and start playing football regularly.

"I was worried about what was going to happen with me, but I'm pleased to be here. My fitness is starting to get good and I'm one of the manager's players now."

Gradel started relatively few matches during his loan with Leeds, used largely as a substitute by Simon Grayson, but he is keen to earn himself a regular starting place after signing on a full-time basis.

"I'm happy to play wherever I'm needed," he said, "but I probably feel happiest on the left wing."

 
 
 

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