DEL PIERO WANTED AT LEEDS
ITALIAN legend Alessandro Del Piero could be set to join Leeds after prospective Whites owner Massimo Cellino made the striker his No.1 target.
Del Piero, now 39, scored 290 goals for Juventus and is widely regarded as one of the finest forwards of his generation.
He has spent the last two years with Australian side Sydney FC, where he has netted 21 goals in 38 games.
However, he has yet to sign a new contract with the ALeague side and that has prompted representatives of Cellino to offer Del Piero a player-coach role starting in the summer.
Whether the deal has been approved by manager Brian McDermott – sacked and then reinstated by Cellino last week – is unclear, but the Leeds boss said this week he would demand respect from the new owner.
“Whoever takes the club over, we have to work together,” he said. “That’s really important and it goes both ways. I have to work with the owner and the owner has to work with me, that’s the key relationship at any club.
“Mutual respect is so important. If I get respect, I will give respect back.”
Whether McDermott remains at the helm or not, Leeds could be set for a cash windfall after Chellino sold his stake in Serie A side Cagliari. Cellino – who has owned the Sardinian club for 22 years – revealed the news on Thursday but did not name the buyer.
However, reports in Italy claim the buyers are the AlThani family, emirs of Qatar and owners of big-spending Paris St Germain who have in the past attempted to buy Manchester United and Roma.
It is believed they have paid around € 70m for a 98 per cent stake in Cagliari, roughly equivalent to £58m. Yet Cellino has paid only £40m for Leeds and is reportedly keen to plough much of the excess into his plans to buy back Elland Road and fund a return to the Premier League.
The Italian – through his company Eleanor Sport Ltd – has paid £25m for a 75 per cent stake in Leeds. This will come in two tranches – the first in cash, the second in equity funds, all to be paid within the next two years.
Former owners GFH Capital will retain a 25 per cent stake, with Salah Nooruddin remaining as chairman and David Haigh staying on as chief executive.
However, the deal is subject to approval under the Football League’s owners and directors test.
The Italian was charged with false accounting in 1996, but the Football League – who will meet Miami-based Celli- no this week – are likely to consider this conviction spent. An ongoing investigation into misuse of public funds is also likely to be disregarded as the outcome is not yet known.
MICK GOES GREEN BY ADDING PAULPICTURE: Action Images
IPSWICH boss Mick McCarthy has boosted his midfield by signing Paul Green on an
emergency 93-day loan. The 30-year-old has moved south
from Leeds after failing to make an appearance for
the Whites since injuring his hamstring while
on duty with the Republic of Ireland in November. Green came off the bench for the
final 16 minutes as Ipswich came from 2-0 down
to draw 2-2 at Barnsley yesterday. The experienced midfielder started
his career with Doncaster, where he spent
seven years, before another four at Derby. He has
made 46 appearances for Leeds since arriving in 2012. LOAN RANGER: Paul Green has moved to Ipswich from Leeds