Leeds United learn chances of offloading Diego Llorente permanently to Roma with Jose Mourinho taken aback

Diego Llorente representing Roma

A report in Italy has revealed how Diego Llorente feels about the prospect of making his move from Leeds United to AS Roma permanent.

Llorente left Leeds late in the January transfer window, just weeks after signing a contract extension at Elland Road. He has had to be patient since his surprise move to Serie A, making his first league start in Italy over the weekend.

The Spain international partnered Chris Smalling at centre-back as Roma kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

After the match, Roma manager Jose Mourinho – who is working with Llorente for the second time after previously giving him his senior debut for Real Madrid – praised the Leeds loanee’s impact.

Mourinho told DAZN on Sunday: “Diego Llorente also played very well with Smalling in a four-man defence. He worked really well during the break, and as a manager that’s what really struck me about today: Llorente’s performance.

“I could have used [Zeki] Celik as a central defender but he’d never done it before so we opted for a four-man defence. I was really happy with Llorente because he allowed us to keep more possession.”

Llorente responded by saying: “I am very happy with the coach’s compliments. When he called me I immediately came here because it could be a great opportunity for my career.

“I’m very happy to be here. I am working very hard to be important for this team.”

And now, an update from La Gazzetta Dello Sport has confirmed that Llorente is keen to make his move to Roma permanent.

Diego Llorente waiting for decision in June

In Llorente’s loan deal, Leeds have given Roma the option to buy him for a fee reported as €18million (£15.8m) by La Gazzetta. Previous outlets have suggested the 18m valuation is actually in pounds, which would come out at €20.5m.

It did seem an optimistic valuation by Leeds, and the latest report now suggests Roma might try to negotiate a lower fee if they want to keep Llorente.

After all, his emergence into their starting lineup at the weekend only came because Smalling’s usual colleagues, Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez, were both suspended, as was fellow backup Marash Kumbulla.

But Llorente – who also recently started a Europa League match against his former club Real Sociedad – took his chance and should be able to amass further gametime until Roma have to make a decision.

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La Gazzetta says June is usually Llorente’s lucky month, since it was when he made his Real Madrid debut in 2013 and his competitive Spain debut in 2019.

In 2023, it may end up being the month in which his unlikely move from Leeds to Roma becomes a permanent arrangement.

If not, the 29-year-old would be back under contract at Elland Road until 2026. He made 59 appearances for Leeds prior to his recent loan departure, having originally joined them in September 2020 after their return to the Premier League.

But the Whites have other options at the back now, including winter signing Max Wober. That said, there is also a different coach in charge than the one that sanctioned his exit from Leeds.

There will be a few factors at play to determine Llorente’s future, but the ball seems to be in Roma’s court right now.