Leeds United: Bamba on radar as Becchio eyes return

Sol Bamba, right, challenges Robert Snodgrass.
Sol Bamba, right, challenges Robert Snodgrass.
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Leeds United were on the trail of Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba last night as the agent of Luciano Becchio spoke out and urged the club to make an offer for the striker.

United’s dealings in the transfer market appear to be gathering pace with owner Massimo Cellino due to fly back to England from America tomorrow with a number of possible deals in the pipeline.

Former Leeds striker Becchio is an established target of United head coach Neil Redfearn, and news of Redfearn’s interest yesterday prompted the 31-year-old’s agent, Horacio Rossi, to invite a bid from Elland Road.

Becchio has resumed full training with Norwich City after recovering from a serious heel injury but he is likely to be surplus to requirements at Carrow Road this month, despite the imminent arrival of a new Norwich manager.

United intend to add a goalscorer to their squad before the end of January and have not abandoned their interest in Sassuolo’s Leonardo Pavoletti, but a new centre-back is also wanted and talks are ongoing about a possible deal for Bamba.

The Ivory Coast international – a former Leicester City and Hibernian player – is just six months into a three-year deal at Palermo but he has played only once in Serie A this season and United have identified him as a potential loan signing.

Bamba completed a season-and-a-half at Leicester before leaving England for Turkish club Trabzonspor in 2012. The 29-year-old has amassed almost 50 caps for the Ivory Coast but he has not been called up for this month’s African Cup of Nations and would be available throughout January.

The arrival of another defender at Leeds would increase the likelihood of Scott Wootton, United’s 23-year-old centre-back, returning to Rotherham United after his loan at the New York Stadium ends this weekend.

Birmingham City are also thought to be interested in Wotton and Leeds are willing to discuss a permanent deal for a player who joined from Manchester United in 2013 but has never established himself as a first-team regular.

Becchio has himself been peripheral at Norwich ever since his transfer to Carrow Road from Leeds two years ago and his representative left little doubt about the forward’s interest in a return to Yorkshire.

Rossi said: “Leeds is Luciano’s home and if they want to sign him they know where we are.

“Leeds is always going to be a special club for Luciano. It’s a club that he loves.”

Becchio spent five-and-a-half years with United between 2008 and 2013 and he remains a popular figure at Elland Road having contributed heavily in the success of Simon Grayson’s reign as manager.

Rossi insisted that Becchio had fully recovered from the hairline fracture which forced him to prematurely end a loan at Rotherham earlier this season.

Redfearn recommended the signing of Becchio during recent discussions with Cellino but Pavoletti, 26, could yet be United’s striker of choice as the club attempt to increase the strength of their attacking line.

Cellino’s return to England tomorrow night after a fortnight in Miami should prompt the conclusion of a number of transfers, though no new arrivals are expected before Leeds play Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Elsewhere, The Los Angeles Galaxy have announced the signing of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as a designated player from July. The 34-year-old former England skipper is to join the Galaxy’s squad during Major League Soccer’s summer transfer window, following the conclusion of the Barclays Premier League season, pending receipt of his P-1 visa and international transfer certificate.

“I’m very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy,” Gerrard said.