Leeds have stiffened their resolve in their pursuit of a midfield ace rated highly by Marcelo Bielsa that would break the club’s transfer fee record.
Leeds have enjoyed a superb first season back in the Premier League despite their surprise recent defeat to Brighton. Doubts over the viability of Bielsa’s system in the top flight have been firmly put to bed. Furthermore, the club retain an outside hope of securing European football through finishing in seventh position.
Nevertheless, the club’s hierarchy retain ambitions of guiding the club into the upper echelons of the league. To do so, two vital aims must be accomplished.
Firstly, Bielsa must be signed to a contract extension at the club’s managerial helm. Bielsa often signs contracts year-to-year, but Leeds’ majority owner – Andrea Radrizzani – recently gave a positive update on how negotiations are faring.
The second aim will be to oversee another successful transfer window.
A large portion of the current Leeds squad are players left over from Bielsa’s first season in the Championship. Though the Argentine’s coaching methods have improved these players immeasurably, a greater quality of stars may be required to take Leeds to the next level.
One such player who could do just that is Udinese midfielder, Rodrigo De Paul.
The 26-year-old became a transfer target for the Whites last summer, though his £37m price tag was eventually deemed too high.
His six goals and seven assists last season have already been surpassed this campaign, with eight and eight respectively with five games remaining.
The Argentine’s continued rise has attracted speculation from elsewhere, most notably from Liverpool who are expected to be on the hunt for a Georginio Wijnaldum replacement.
However, the latest report from Football Insider reveals Leeds have stiffened their resolve to land the midfielder.
They note that Leeds are ‘laying the groundwork for another mega-money pursuit’ of the star.
A club source is cited as revealing De Paul is one of their ‘top targets’. Furthermore, Leeds are stated to have already made contact regarding what fee it would take to see a move greenlit.
De Paul is said to be ‘highly rated’ by Bielsa, and could slot straight into the club’s midfield upon arrival.
Mateusz Klich has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League. While current club record signing – £26m Spaniard Rodrigo – has endured a difficult campaign amid injury issues.
The figure of £37m is touted as what Udinese were seeking last summer. However, Leeds are said to be hopeful of paying less 12 months on given De Paul is one year closer to becoming a free agent.
Third Prem giant eyeing Leeds raid
Meanwhile, Leeds may have to fend off more interest in Raphinha this summer, as Manchester City have now reportedly joined the race to sign him.
The €20m fee that Leeds spent on Raphinha seems to have been a bargain. His value has surely risen since then and other clubs could try to prise him away.
A report in February claimed that Liverpool were “blown away” by the former Rennes man. As they look to replenish their attack in the summer, he could be a potential target.
Manchester United were then also linked as they continue their hunt for a right winger. Raphinha’s relationship with Bruno Fernandes from their time together at Sporting CP could help.
But now, another rival has emerged for the Brazilian’s signature. According to SportItalia, Manchester City are also admirers of Raphinha.