Leeds United have been backed to secure the €40m signing of Rodrigo de Paul – but hopes of a January deal have been dashed by one pundit.
Argentine midfielder De Paul was a major target for Leeds in the summer transfer window. De Paul has been one of Serie A’s standout players in his position over recent years.
It even appeared that De Paul wanted the move to Leeds, but the two clubs could not agree a fee. Indeed, reports last year revealed just how close they came to signing him.
The player even sent the rumour mill into overdrive over new year when the player dropped something of a transfer hint.
Since then, De Paul has also been mentioned as a target for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
However, Kevin Phillips is backing Leeds to still land their man, having explained his belief why the deal will go through in the summer.
“Leeds have done so well this season,” Phillips told Football Insider.
“[Marcelo] Bielsa picks that same team in the Premier League week in week out so it is a tough one.
“You could sign the likes of De Paul and they could disrupt the harmony. But any top quality player like that is something the club will have to look at.
“Leeds have gradually progressed and it has been done in the right way.
“They will be interested but whether they take the decision to bring him in now I do not know. I think they will wait until the summer to really strengthen the squad.
“I would be very wary of making a big move like that for someone of that quality.”
Bielsa admission after Crawley embarrassment
Marcelo Bielsa, meanwhile, has admitted Leeds let themselves down in a critical area as Crawley comfortably knocked them out the FA Cup.
It means Leeds have lost every game they have played in the FA Cup during Bielsa’s three seasons in charge. The manner of their exit made this one particularly painful for their supporters.
Playing in the competition as a Premier League club for the first time since 2004, Leeds failed to assert their dominance over their opponents from League Two.
It wasn’t for a lack of possession – Leeds had 71 per cent of the ball. However, they struggled to create things, and Crawley ended the game with more shots, shots on target and – crucially – goals.
“We couldn’t unbalance them when we attacked,” he told BBC Sport. “We had the ball for a long period of time but we couldn’t do much with it.
“In the first half it was a first half where we played better than the opponent and the game was played how we wanted it to be played, even if we didn’t create much danger.
“And in the second half, the game was played how the opponents wanted to play and they did create danger to deserve the goals that they scored.
“The result generates a lot of sadness and disappointment for us.”