DEL PIERO WANTED AT LEEDS

The Football League Paper - - TFLP - By Chris Dunlavy

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 PAUL

PIC­TURE: 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

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