Fabrizio Romano has dropped a gutting transfer blow for Leeds United on rumoured target Rodrigo De Paul.
Reports last summer suggested that Marcelo Bielsa’s side were very much interested in bringing the Argentina international to Elland Road, while The Athletic’s Phil Hay recently claimed that the midfielder actually wants to come to the Premier League to join up with the Whites.
In fact, reports from Football Insider even suggested that Leeds were “laying down the groundwork” for a big-money move for De Paul this summer, and that he was one of their “top targets” for the transfer window.
But now, via his official Twitter account, Romano revealed: “Rodrigo de Paul is set to join Atlético Madrid, confirmed. €35m final fee. After opening talks two weeks ago, Atléti now closing on final details to complete the agremeent. Contract until June 2026 to be signed soon.”
The news that De Paul is now close to join Atletico Madrid will be a hammer blow to Bielsa, who pursued him last summer and looked as though he wanted him again this time around too.
The Argentine midfielder enjoyed a superb campaign in Serie A last season, scoring nine goals and providing a further 11 assists in all competitions, and Bielsa would surely have loved to have had the box-to-box dynamo at Elland Road – the Leeds boss’ highest-scoring central midfielder was Mateusz Klich with four.
Meanwhile, Udinese coach Luca Gotti, said: “Rodrigo is not the only one we have here who has a bright future but he can play for all the top clubs. Any team in the world. I mean, he starts for Lionel Messi’s Argentina. I’ve been able to watch this metamorphosis from up close, the shift in mentality that turns a good player into a top player, a champion.
“He’s become a leader and is the first person to demand more of himself. Rodrigo is able to pass that work ethic on to his team-mates.”
The £26m-rated star would have been a perfect fit at Leeds given his superb “mentality” and “work ethic” off the pitch, and the fact that he does the business on it too.
Bielsa will be absolutely devastated to miss out on the midfielder after such a long-running pursuit.