Leeds back in transfer market - Bamba now in Cellino’s sights

Sol Bamba, right, challenges Robert Snodgrass.
Sol Bamba, right, challenges Robert Snodgrass.
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LEEDS UNITED were on the trail of Ivory Coast centre-back Sol Bamba last night as the agent of Luciano Becchio spoke out and urged the club to make an offer for the Argentinian striker.

United’s dealings in the transfer market appear to be gathering pace with owner Massimo Cellino set to return to England from America tomorrow with a number of possible deals in the pipeline.

Former Leeds forward Becchio is a target of head coach Neil Redfearn and news of Redfearn’s interest yesterday prompted the 31-year-old’s agent, Horacio Rossi, to invite a for him.

Becchio has resumed full training after a serious heel injury but is likely to be surplus to requirements at Norwich City, despite the imminent arrival of a new manager at Carrow Road.

United intend to add a goalscorer to their squad and have not abandoned their interest in Sassuolo’s Leonardo Pavoletti but a new centre-back is also likely to arrive and talks are ongoing about a possible deal for Bamba.

The Ivory Coast international - a former Leicester City and Hibernian player - is just six months into a three-year deal at Palermo but he has played only once in Serie A this season and United have identified him as a potential loan signing.

Bamba left England in 2012 after a year-and-a-half at Leicester, joining Turkish club Trabzonspor. The 29-year-old has amassed almost 50 caps for the Ivory Coast but he has not been called up for this month’s African Cup of Nations.

His arrival would increase the likelihood of Scott Wootton, United’s 23-year-old centre-back, returning to Rotherham United after his loan at the New York Stadium ends this weekend. Birmingham City are also thought to be interested in Wootton.

Leeds are willing to discuss a permanent deal for Wootton who joined Leeds from Manchester United in 2013 but has never established himself as a first-team regular.

Becchio has himself been peripheral at Norwich ever since his transfer to Carrow Road from Leeds two years ago and his representative left little doubt about the forward’s interest in a return to Elland Road.

Rossi said: “Leeds is Luciano’s home and if they want to sign him they know where we are.

“Leeds is always going to be a special club for Luciano. It’s a club that he loves.”

Becchio spent five-and-a-half years with United between 2008 and 2013 and he remains a popular figure at Elland Road having contributed heavily in the success of Simon Grayson’s reign as manager.

Rossi insisted that Becchio was fully fit after the hairline fracture which forced him to prematurely end a loan at Rotherham earlier in the season.

Redfearn recommended the signing of Becchio during recent discussions with owner Cellino but Pavoletti, 26, could yet be Leeds’ striker of choice as the club attempt to increase the strength of their attacking line.

Cellino’s return to England after a fortnight in Miami should prompt the conclusion of a number of transfers, though no new signings are expected before Leeds travel to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.