Leeds abandon chase for Becchio and look to Albania instead

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LEEDS UNITED are looking to sign little-known Albanian striker Edgar Cani amid clear suggestions that the club have ruled out a move for Luciano Becchio.

Cani, a 6’4” centre-forward at Catania, could become United’s first January signing with talks between Leeds and the Serie B club in progress.

United want to take the 25-year-old on loan for the rest of the season but a proposed approach for Becchio is set to come to nothing following claims that club owner Massimo Cellino is not prepared to sanction the signing of the former Leeds striker.

Head coach Neil Redfearn recommended Becchio during recent discussions with Cellino and Becchio’s agent made it clear last week that the Argentinian would be willing to negotiate a return to Elland Road.

The 31-year-old spent four-and-a-half prolific years at Leeds before leaving to join Norwich City at the start of 2013.

Becchio is on the fringes of Norwich’s squad and seemingly surplus to requirements at Carrow Road but he spent two months before Christmas recovering from a fractured heel.

His representatives are aware of Redfearn’s interest but Leeds have not pushed for the signing of Becchio and that option appears to have been dismissed by Cellino.

United’s president, who has sporting director Nicola Salerno working to identify potential targets, is more likely to strike an agreement to bring Cani to England for the second half of the Championship campaign.

Cani is an Albanian international who grew up in Italy and has spent most of his career in the Italian leagues. He moved to Poland in 2011 for a spell with Polonia Warsaw which was marred by the club’s severe financial position and repeated fall-outs between the striker and Polonia officials.

Cani has previously played for Bari, Palermo and Piacenza and is currently under contract at Catania, who he joined in 2013.

Since Cellino’s takeover of Leeds in April, the Elland Road club have looked to Catania for the signings of centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci and striker Souleymane Doukara.

Striker Mirco Antenucci was also on the Sicilian side’s books for a time before moving to Yorkshire in August.

The pressure on Leeds to strengthen their squad is intensifying steadily with the club one place above the Championship’s relegation places and a deal in place to to send captain Stephen Warnock to Derby County.

Warnock’s permanent switch to Pride Park is still subject to the results of a medical but United expect the left-back to complete his transfer later this week. His contract at Elland Road is due to expire in the summer.

Leeds retain an interest in Sassuolo striker Leonardo Pavoletti, though sources say the club are unlikely to be able to meet his financial demands.

United are under a transfer embargo due to their breach of the Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and the restrictions prohibit the signing of players on a salary of more than £600,000 a year.

Becchio’s wage at Norwich is considerably higher but Redfearn made no secret of his wish to bring the forward to Leeds, saying last week: “He’s somebody I’d fancy.

“Obviously he’s well known at Leeds United and he’s scored a lot of goals for Leeds United.

“He knows this division and he would be one that would give us good competition, definitely.”

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