Leeds named as leading candidate in Ounahi auction as Orta also lines up second deal for Ivorian star

Azzedine Ounahi, Morocco, in action during FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Leeds United reportedly remain at the front of the queue to sign Azzedine Ounahi despite claims in Italy that the Morocco star favours a move to Napoli.

The Whites are in a hurry to get some big business done this January window. Having already sealed the signing of Maximilian Wober for a fee that could top £17.7m, they are now deep in talks over the signing of Georginio Rutter.

And the Hoffenheim star is very much on track to become Leeds United’s record signing this month. That’s despite director of football Victor Orta negotiating a lower-than-expected fee for the France U21 international.

With Leeds hoping to soon get that signing over the line, attention will quickly turn to another area of concern: midfield. The Whites have depended heavily on summer signings Tyler Adams and Marc Roca so far this season. The pair have emerged as first-team regulars with Adams, in particular, illustrating his qualities.

However, Leeds do not have much strength in depth. Adam Forshaw has featured again lately, but his contract runs down in the summer and he is likely to leave as a free agent. The Whites could even sell him before then amid claims they are open to listening to offers.

That said, that situation is likely to have changed now. That’s after Leeds bid farewell to the hugely-popular Mateusz Klich, who is on the brink of a move to DC United.

And while Sam Greenwood has operated in midfield too this season, it still leaves Leeds short of options in the engine room.

As a result, the Whites are reportedly positioning themselves to the front of the queue for Ounahi.

Leeds leading the Azzedine Ounahi transfer chase

The Morocco star recently enjoyed an exceptional World Cup for his country. Indeed, he played a central role for the north African nation as they made history by reaching the semi-finals.

They ultimately finished fourth, with their achievements going down in history. And the tournament has served to put a number of their stars at the forefront of many sides’ transfer agendas.

Reports earlier this week indicated that Leeds are leading the charge to sign Ounahi.

And the Whites are reportedly ready to offer a fee of up to £22m (€25m) to prise him from Angers.

However, reports claim Napoli are also in the mix. And perhaps worryingly for Leeds, the player seemingly favours the move to the Serie A leaders.

That said, all hope is certainly not lost for Leeds.

And according to Tuttosport, Angers are ready to ‘auction off the player’ this month. Understandably, they are determined to sell to the highest bidders as they look to maximise their profits on the 22-year-old.

Furthermore, with funds tight at Napoli, Luciano Spalletti’s side have only put down an opening £13.3m (€15m) offer. The article claims they could go as high as £17.7m (€20m) with bonuses.

However, Leeds are almost certainly willing to go higher. And for that reason, they are described as the side most likely to pounce for Ounahi.

Orta also keen to bring Seko Fofana to Leeds

Astonishingly, Ounahi might not be the only midfielder Leeds sign this month either.

And according to French outlet Media Foot, Leeds are also among the leading contenders to sign Lens midfielder Seko Fofana.

The French-born Ivory Coast international moved to the French side in a deal from Udinese in 2020. Having initially impressed, he has quickly been rewarded with a contract extension, keeping him at Estadio Bollaert-Delelis until summer 2027.

And Media Foot claims he is likely to depart the Ligue 1 side with Lens now ready to listen to offers.

Nice and Monaco are reportedly looking to keep him in France. However, Jesse Marsch’s side are also reportedly keen, with Orta expressing a keen interest in bringing Fofana to the Premier League.

However, they state any sale of the 27-year-old is likely to go through in the summer, as opposed this month.

But with Forshaw likely to have made their midfield a man lighter by then, the report claims Leeds will be very much in the running to sign the eight-times capped star.

READ MORE‘He has huge potential’ – Everything you need to know about Leeds United-bound Georginio Rutter