Italian clubs vying for the signature of Leeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci

Giuseppe Bellusci
Giuseppe Bellusci
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The controversial Italian defender spent last season on loan back home at Empoli and still has 12 months on his contract to run with the Elland Road club. But as Phil Hay reports it won’t be spent back at Leeds.

Cagliari and Benevento have joined the group of clubs looking to strike a deal for Giuseppe Bellusci with the Leeds United defender attempting to tie up his exit from Elland Road.

Bellusci is working to secure another move to Serie A having been granted permission by Leeds to remain in Italy and resolve his future while most of United’s squad began pre-season training this week.

The club’s players were put through their first session at Thorp Arch on Monday but Bellusci was among the absentees amid expectations that he will join an Italian side before United’s friendlies get underway.

Bellusci, who has 12 months left on his contract with Leeds, spent last season on loan at Empoli but saw plans for a permanent transfer collapse after Empoli were relegated from Serie A on the final day of the 2016-17 term.

Bologna, Cagliari and newly-promoted Benevento are all interested in signing the controversial centre-back and Leeds have allowed him to stay in his homeland with a view to finalising a transfer elsewhere.

Pontus Jansson

Pontus Jansson

United do not see Bellusci as part of their plans under new head coach Thomas Christiansen and Bellusci favours the option of joining another team in his homeland having endured two difficult seasons in England.

Leeds are in the market for at least one centre-back following the end of Kyle Bartley’s loan from Swansea City but will not look to Bellusci to fill the gap.

Bartley’s availability is unclear, however, with Swansea preparing to assess him in pre-season before making a decision on whether to listen to offers for a player who enjoyed the most impressive season of his career at Elland Road last term.

The former Arsenal trainee is under contract in Wales for another year and his value has risen dramatically on the back of his consistent performances for United.

Bologna, Cagliari and newly-promoted Benevento are all interested in signing the controversial centre-back and Leeds have allowed him to stay in his homeland with a view to finalising a transfer elsewhere.

Phil Hay

Former Leeds head coach Garry Monk, who is now in charge of Middlesbrough, is expected to rival United for Bartley’s signature if Swansea decide to sell him.

Leeds are also being linked with Sverrir Ingason, an Icelandic centre-back who currently plays for Getafe in Spain. The club are short of numbers in that area with Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper the only senior central defenders in Christiansen’s ranks.

Jansson, whose long-awaited permanent transfer from Torino is due to go through later this week, joined Bellusci in missing the early stages of pre-season after being given an extended period of time off following his wedding in Sweden.

Midfielder Eunan O’Kane will also make a late return to Thorp Arch after being married last week and striker Chris Wood is absent having represented New Zealand at the Confederations Cup in Russia this month.

Liam Cooper

Liam Cooper

Jansson, O’Kane and Wood are due to link up with Christiansen’s before Leeds travel to Austria for a pre-season tour during the second week of July. The club’s schedule of fixtures starts against Harrogate Town on July 5, a game which will now be played behind closed doors.

United had originally planned to contest the friendly on Harrogate’s artificial surface but said they had switched it to Thorp Arch “following discussions with our medical team regarding the 3G pitch at the CNG Stadium”.

Christiansen cast his eye over his squad for the first time on Monday, little over a week after taking charge of Leeds and becoming the club’s eighth first-team boss in three years.

The former APOEL manager told LUTV: “The players wanted to come back and prove that they’re worth staying at Leeds.

“Our target is to arrive in the best condition on August 6 against Bolton but with what I saw (on Monday) I’m really happy. I see a good team with a good atmosphere.

“We have enough time and I’m happy that we’ll go to Austria and have games there against good teams. We’ll transfer the work to the games and that’s where we see the evolution.

“The players have to get to know me and the way I want to play. We’ve put a lot of different concepts into our exercises already. I have a way I want to play and the most important thing is for them to understand it.”