Leeds loan star Bamba: My time at Palermo is over

Sol Bamba (right) in action against Leeds United for Leicester City.
Sol Bamba (right) in action against Leeds United for Leicester City.
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Sol Bamba says he has his heart set on a permanent contract at Leeds United, admitting his time with Palermo looks to be over.

Bamba joined Leeds on a half-season loan last week and wants to commit his long-term future to the club after failing to make an impact in Italy.

Palermo signed the 30-year-old in August but head coach Giuseppe Iachini used him only once in the first half of their Serie A campaign.

A bid by Leeds to sign him on a temporary basis was accepted eight days ago and the deal included a clause allowing United to take the former Leicester City defender permanently in the summer.

Asked if he expected to return to Palermo, Bamba said: “If I’m honest I don’t think so. Not unless the manager changes. The club made it clear that they want me to come back and play but I don’t see that happening.

“We (Bamba’s family) want to settle here if we can and get a deal done as soon as possible. It’s up to me. I need to show what I can do on the pitch to make the president (Massimo Cellino) buy me.”

Bamba, who is set to make his Leeds debut in today’s clash with Huddersfield Town, said he was unclear on the reasons for his lack of opportunities in Sicily.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “I used to train well and if you ask the manager, he always told me ‘you’re doing absolutely everything right.’

“I’d just arrived at the club and people in front of me had been in Italy for two or three years. The manager would say ‘you’re not far off, keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be playing.’

“Well, after one month then two, three and four you start to get worried. So when I had the chance to move to Leeds, it was an easy decision.”

Bamba’s arrival at Elland Road hastened the departure of Jason Pearce who join Championship rivals Wigan Athletic for a fee of around £300,000 yesterday.

Pearce, who was the leading appearance-make in United’s squad, had a year-and-a-half left on his contract but lost his place in the club’s starting line-up last month.

He admitted that the uncertainty surrounding Leeds and the club’s disqualified owner Cellino had encouraged him to move on, telling beanbagsports.com: “Coming to Wigan, it’s a stable club. At Leeds it was all up in the air.

“No-one knew what was going on with the ownership, they were bringing players in left, right and centre and as player you just want to be able to get on with your job.

“The team was changing week in, week out and for the last four, five or six games I felt like I deserved to play. I had to get out of there and show what I could do.”

Meanwhile, United’s interest in striker Leonardo Pavoletti looks set to come to nothing with the 26-year-old on the verge of a move from Sassuolo to Genoa.

Leeds targeted Pavoletti prior to the start of the January transfer window and invited him to attend their 2-0 defeat to Wigan on Boxing Day but they have not concluded a deal and Genoa look set to secure his signature.

Catania’s Edgar Cani remains an option for United as the club push to secure a new striker before the Monday’s 11pm transfer deadline.