Leeds came within a whisker of convincing Dimitri Payet to return to the Premier League this summer, according to a report in France.
Payet, 33, developed into one of the Premier League’s most talented midfielders with the Hammers between 2015-17.
The French schemer hit 12 goals and grabbed 15 assists in 2015/16 to help West Ham to a seventh place finish.
Payet left for Marseille for £25million in January 2017 after Slaven Bilic revealed the player did not want to play for the club and was pining over a return to France.
Players of his ilk rarely stay still for long, it seems.
The player was fleetingly mentioned as a possible target for Leeds upon their promotion to the Premier League.
Now Le10 Sport has lifted the lid on just how close Leeds were to landing the former Hammers favourite.
As per the French outlet, Payet was the subject of a phone call from Marcelo Bielsa upon Leeds return to the top flight. They claim Bielsa made it his personal objective to reunite with the player.
It’s reported that Payet then promised Bielsa to consider his proposal before getting back to him. They claim he was ‘seriously tempted’ by the move but ultimately decided to stay with Marseille.
Payet has since been handed a new deal by the Ligue 1 giants and is likely to see out his playing days at Le Orange Velodrome.
De Paul hopes fade for Leeds
Now, according to multiple reports, their quest to sign the Argentine has become even more difficult.
Reports have suggested that Russian powerhouses Zenit St Petersburg have entered the race to sign him.
A move to Russia doesn’t look likely to tempt the Argentine. That’s despite De Paul knowing he could earn a lucrative salary by moving there.
However, the biggest blow to Leeds looks likely to come from within Italy itself.
As per multiple outlets, De Paul wants to wait and see what other interest emerges in him from the Italian market.
Juventus are named as his “dream destination” but now it seems another suitor could emerge in the shape of Fiorentina.