Cellino pledge on Leeds United squad

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino
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Massimo Cellino has revealed that Leeds United’s summer signings were likely to run into double figures as he waited on the completion of a deal for Sampdoria’s Gaetano Berardi.

In a lengthy interview with the YEP, the United owner said he planned to bring another “five or six” new players to Elland Road on top of the four already signed by the Championship club.

His comments pointed to a major overhaul of the squad at Leeds and a sweeping response to the club’s mediocre performance in the Championship last season, a season in which they finished 15th.

United have already signed goalkeepers Marco Silvestri and Stuart Taylor, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and forward Souleymane Doukara, and Cellino confirmed that an offer for Sampdoria’s Berardi was virtually in place.

The right-back, a Switzerland international, has been made available by Sampdoria and Carlo Osti, the Serie A club’s sporting director, appeared to indicate that a deal was done on Wednesday night, saying: “Berardi will go to Leeds.”

Cellino said: “Berardi I haven’t signed yet but I hope to. He’s a good guy.

“I’m offering less money than Sampdoria, he’s playing in Serie A and played 150 times in Serie A, and he’s a national team player but he’s wants to come.

“The agent of Berardi is a good friend of mine. He (Berardi) said he wanted to go to Cellino in England. I said ‘how much do you want?’ and offered less. If you’re good, you’ll get a bonus. You have to show me that you want to come here, not for money.

“When you sign players, you can always raise the wage. You can never lower the wage. So if you trust yourself then trust me. I’m not going to take advantage.”

United have opted against the option of taking Brazilian defender Rodrigo Ely from AC Milan. Ely is moving on loan to Serie B side Avellino but Leeds are continue to chase Federico Viviani, Roma’s 22-year-old midfielder.

Viviani’s agent told the YEP earlier this week that Viviani had a spate of offers from Serie A clubs to consider but Nicola Salerno, the former Cagliari sporting director who has joined Cellino at Leeds, was quoted tonight as saying: “We have good chances to take Viviani but the deal isn’t done yet”.

Leeds have just three weeks to finalise their senior squad for the opening game of the Championship term, away to Millwall, but Cellino said: “We’ll sign another five or six. We need that. I don’t want to say names because you test your luck.

“We’ve got more than 50 games next season and we need players, good players. We were missing that last season.”

Cellino has made just one addition from the English league - keeper Taylor on a free transfer from Reading - and he said his current lack of knowledge about English players and the cost of signing domestic talent was likely to see further arrivals from abroad.

“I’m just starting in British football,” he said. “I try to understand the best players over here but I don’t know much about them because you need time to watch games.

“I love British players but if a forward scores 26 goals in France, he costs me four million euros. Here, they ask me for £9m.

“At Cagliari we looked at players from France, Sweden, Germany, Argentina and Brazil but most of them I didn’t think were right to play in the Championship. Because here the players are like Vikings. They’re going to kill the other guy! So I need to decide which players have the right skills but are also strong enough to play in England. This is high-level, physical football.”

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