Giuseppe Bellusci back training with Leeds United after move hits buffers

Giuseppe Bellusci
Giuseppe Bellusci
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GIUSEPPE BELLUSCI has returned to training with Leeds United after failing to secure a quick move to the Italian leagues.

The centre-back was allowed to stay in Italy last week as most of United’s players began pre-season work at Thorp Arch but he flew back to England over the weekend with a firm offer for his signature yet to materialise.

Leeds, who no longer see Bellusci as part of their plans, hoped the additional time away would help him to tie up another switch to Serie A following his spell on loan at Empoli last season.

Bellusci moved to Empoli 12 months ago having been deemed surplus to requirements by former head coach Garry Monk but a prospective deal over a permanent move collapsed after Empoli were relegated from Serie A.

Bologna showed an early interest in Bellusci following his departure from Empoli but have since recruited two centre-backs in Sebastien De Maio and Giancarlo Gonzalez.

Cagliari and newly-promoted Benevento are also considering moving for the 27-year-old but have yet to table firm offers.

Liam Cooper. PIC: Varley's Picture Agency

Liam Cooper. PIC: Varley's Picture Agency

United hoped Bellusci would edge closer to a transfer last week but he is back in Leeds and working at Thorp Arch with the club’s pre-season friendlies due to start in the next seven days.

The former Catania player, who first joined Leeds in 2014 during the influx of players which followed Massimo Cellino’s takeover of the club, has been a controversial figure at Elland Road and appeared to have made his last outing for United in a 3-2 win over Reading in April 2016.

He was left out of a subsequent trip to Hull City for disciplinary reasons by then head coach Steve Evans and did not feature again prior to joining Empoli.

Leeds are short of centre-backs having seen Kyle Bartley return to Swansea City at the end of an impressive season-long loan in May but the club and head coach Thomas Christiansen will continue to listen to offers for Bellusci with the intention of moving him out of Elland Road before the start of the season.

Pontus Jansson in action against Newcastle last season. PIC : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Pontus Jansson in action against Newcastle last season. PIC : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Italian has 12 months left on his contract.

Christiansen is now considering whether to use Bellusci in Leeds’ forthcoming friendlies amid a lack of alternative central defenders.

United play Harrogate Town in a behind-closed-doors game at Thorp Arch on Wednesday before contesting their first public fixture under Christiansen away at Guiseley on Saturday.

Centre-back Liam Cooper is available but Pontus Jansson, whose three-year contract with Leeds officially started on Saturday, missed training last week after being given additional time off following his wedding and an extended spell of international duty with Sweden.

Striker Chris Wood and midfielder Eunan O’Kane have also been absent on international duty but Christiansen’s entire squad will come together before the club fly to Austria for a three-match tour later this month.