MASSIMO Cellino is considering handing control of Leeds United’s academy to ex-Bradford City striker Benito Carbone in what would be a dramatic start to Cellino’s reign as owner.
Carbone flew into England from Italy this week and made an initial visit to Thorp Arch on Thursday before returning to United’s training ground today.
The 42-year-old’s sudden appearance fuelled speculation that he was in line to replace Brian McDermott as manager of Leeds but it is understood that Cellino is on the verge of naming Carbone as the club’s new head of youth development.
United’s junior and development squads are currently run by Neil Redfearn, their ex-academy manager who moved into a dual role of development squad coach and first-team coach following McDermott’s arrival last April.
Redfearn assumed control of the youth teams at Leeds from Chris Sulley in 2012 and the ex-Barnsley midfielder has been widely credited for the recent success of the academy and the rise of current first-team players Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt.
The club’s Under-18s won their league title last season but Cellino looks set to overhaul the junior coaching structure at Thorp Arch as part of his wider plans for Leeds.
The Italian, who officially bought 75 per cent of United from Gulf Finance House on April 7, is not thought to have finalised Carbone’s appointment but the retired forward is a leading candidate for an academy role and could take charge in the next fortnight.
Carbone is best known in England for his spell at Sheffield Wednesday and his expensive transfer to Bradford City in 2000, a deal which contributed to Bradford’s subsequent financial implosion.
He spent time on loan at Derby County and Middlesbrough before seeing out his playing career in Italy. Lower league coaching jobs followed his retirement in 2010, the most recent with Italian side Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta.
It is not clear what Carbone’s employment at Thorp Arch would mean for Redfearn, though Cellino is thought to hold a high opinion of the 48-year-old.
McDermott’s future, meanwhile, remains unclear as he and Leeds prepare to complete the final two games of the Championship season.
United play Birmingham City at St Andrews tomorrow ahead of a planned talks between Cellino and McDermott next week.
A meeting between the pair, scheduled for this week, did not happen.