Defenders high on Leeds United’s list

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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Leeds United remain in the hunt to sign right-back Gaetano Berardi and will attempt to land two new centre-backs before the start of the season after running into problems with the proposed transfers of Jonathan Rossini and Giuseppe Bellusci.

Leeds pulled out of a deal to take 25-year-old Rossini on loan from Sassuolo last week and the club look unlikely to secure the signature of Bellusci, despite productive attempts to negotiate the sale of the Italian defender from Serie A club Catania.

United are believed to be willing to meet Catania’s valuation but have been put off by Bellusci’s wage demands.

Owner Massimo Cellino is now considering other options but right-back Berardi is poised to become Leeds’ fifth signing of the summer with talks about a switch from Sampdoria on-going.

Berardi, 25, is a Switzerland international who moved to Sampdoria in 2012 after starting his career at Brescia.

He made a steady impact with Sampdoria during the 2012-13 season, playing 21 times, but struggled for games last season and look set to move on in the coming month.

Sam Byram is the only specialist right-back in United’s squad and the talented teenager suffered from a series of injuries last season, though he has come through the early stages of the club’s pre-season schedule without any set-backs.

Scott Wootton – another alternative in that position – has been recovering from injury throughout the summer and missed the club’s recent tour of northern Italy.

Sources in Italy, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that United have made initial enquiries about AC Milan youngsters Rodrigo Ely and Zan Benedicic.

Milan head coach Filippo Inzaghi is thought to have ruled out the departure of Benedicic – an attacking midfielder from Slovenia – while the YEP understands that Leeds are likely to opt for more experienced defenders over Brazil-born Ely, despite rating the youngster highly.

Ely, 20, is yet to break into Milan’s senior side and completed time on loan at Serie B club Varese last season.

Swedish midfielder Sebastian Eriksson – currently on the books of Cellino’s old club Cagliari – is another player being monitored by United, through the 25-year-old is carrying a knee injury.

Leeds’ Championship fixture list has been altered again after Sky Sports chose to televise their Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United. The game will now take place on Friday, October 17, a day earlier than planned.

ON THE BENCH: Samu Saiz.

Derby County v Leeds United: Saiz back on the bench as Cooper and Berardi both start