Leeds United: Whites moving closer to Forestieri signing

Fernando Forestieri (left)
Fernando Forestieri (left)
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Leeds United will attempt to seal the signing of Fernando Forestieri next week after thrashing out a deal to take the striker from Watford.

Leeds and Watford have reached an agreement over a fee for Forestieri, leaving the move in the hands of the 25-year-old Italian with the transfer deadline 10 days away.

Massimo Cellino, who has been negotiating personally with Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, is ready to pay more than £3million for Forestieri, despite indicating on Thursday that Leeds could not afford to finance a deal.

The Elland Road club have already invested more than £4m in Chris Wood and Stuart Dallas but Forestieri is in line to become their third major investment of the summer, provided United can agree personal terms with him.

Forestieri was put up for sale by Watford after failing to feature in their first two Premier League matches and Leeds are one of a number of clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday and Reading, who have made an approach for him.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you Watford sporting director Nicola Salerno - employed by Cellino in the same capacity at Elland Road last season - is understood to have been involved in negotiations over Forestieri’s future.

Salerno attended last weekend’s goalless draw between Reading and Leeds and was pictured with Cellino at the Madejski Stadium.

Forestieri, meanwhile, was spotted at Queens Park Rangers’ win over Rotherham United today while Leeds were fighting out a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday. The forward is a close friend of QPR’s Alejandro Faurlin.

Forestieri has played in England for the past two-and-a-half years, signed by Watford from Udinese, another club owned by the Pozzo family.

His record shows 18 goals in 75 appearances for Watford and he featured heavily in their promotion from the Championship last term. The Vicarage Road club have made numerous additions to their squad, however, and Forestieri is surplus to requirements.

Watford have used him in a variety of a positions and his arrival at Leeds would offer versatility to a head coach in Uwe Rosler who is anxious to secure more attacking options before the transfer window closes on September 1.

Leeds initially asked to take Forestieri on loan but Watford were reluctant to release the forward on a temporary basis. Forestieri is midway through a lengthy five-and-a-half year deal and is tied to Vicarage Road until 2018.

Rosler refused to discuss the proposed deal after this afternoon’s draw with Wednesday, saying: “I can’t tell you what is agreed or not agreed with Watford.

“I can tell you that Mr Cellino last season used his personal money to buy off all the debt so from this summer the club can move on. I wasn’t aware we could (sign) Chris Wood.

“Mr Cellino wants this club to do very well and he wants to back me and support me to bring in the right player at the right price at the right age. The signings show that. They’re all in the same bracket. Forestieri, who you spoke about, he’s 25, yes? So...”

In a separate development, Belgian winger Anthony Limbombe could also be edging closer to a move to Leeds after NEC Nijmegen left him out of their squad for a league game against Ajax on Saturday.

United failed with an initial bid of £1.5m for Limbombe at the start of this month but discussions between the clubs continued last week while Cellino was pursuing the signing of Forestieri.

A statement from NEC said Limbombe was “insufficiently focused” due to interest in him from Elland Road. “Therefore he has no place in the squad,” the statement added.