Leeds United could be facing a transfer nightmare as an update emerges on Udinese midfielder Rodrigo de Paul.
Reports last summer suggested that Leeds were very much interested in bringing the Argentina international to Elland Road, while The Athletic’s Phil Hay recently delivered an update by claiming that De Paul actually wants to come to the Premier League to join Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Now however, journalist Fabrizio Romano has claimed that La Liga champions Atletico Madrid have opened talks with Udinese over signing De Paul this summer, and that while many clubs are in the race, the Spanish side have so offered money and central defender Nehuen Perez to sweeten a potential deal.
Given how long Leeds’ reported pursuit of De Paul has been, to miss out on the Argentine after a year of wanting him would be a hammer blow to Bielsa and would surely have the Whites boss livid.
De Paul seems to be the perfect fit for what Bielsa wants at Elland Road, with his ability to score goals and also be a defensive menace, making him a superb box-to-box option – he bagged an impressive nine goals and provided a further 11 assists in all competitions last season.
That completeness is something Udinese’s technical director, Pier Paolo Marino, has praised the £26m-rated star for, saying: “Rodrigo is animated by a profound love of football. It’s one of the attributes all top players must have. He’s a tireless worker who mixes quantity with quality, training as hard as he plays. In a nutshell, he’s the ideal player.”
Meanwhile, Udinese coach Luca Gotti, added: “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.”
If Victor Orta lets De Paul slip through his grasp and watch him join Atletico instead, it would surely be a major howler on the part of the Leeds director of football, and something that would have Bielsa fuming.