Nicola Salerno has resigned from his position as Leeds United sporting director, according to the club’s banned owner, Massimo Cellino.
News of Salerno’s departure follows days of speculation and comes in the wake of the suspension of United’s assistant head coach, Steve Thompson.
Thompson was suspended until the end of the season last Thursday over an “internal issue” and told that his contract would not be renewed when it expired in the summer.
Leeds said Salerno had been responsible for taking the decision about Thompson and a letter confirming Thompson’s suspension was signed by the 58-year-old Italian.
In a statement released to the BBC on Friday, chairman Andrew Umbers said Thompson’s exit was “disruptive but this is an internal issue and one the board has accepted.”
Thompson, who came to Leeds from Huddersfield as Neil Redfearn’s assistant in December, has not commented on his situation and the ex-Blackpool coach is being advised by the League Managers’ Association (LMA).
But Salerno’s employment at Elland Road now appears to be at an end, less than a year after he came to Elland Road in the aftermath of Cellino’s takeover.
Salerno had previously worked under Cellino at Cagliari and he helped to arrange the arrival of 15 new players at Leeds last summer.
Cellino, who is in Miami, remains subject of a Football League order disqualifying him from influencing decisions at Elland Road. His ban ends on May 4, two days after the final game of the Championship season. United have not responded to requests for comment about Salerno’s position but Cellino said: “He resigned. I’m not there so I don’t know why.
“I wanted him to stay and speak about it first when I got back to Leeds but he made the decision. This is the situation.”
Reports in Italy say Palermo – the club who Leeds signed Sol Bamba and Granddi Ngoyi from in January – want Salerno to join them as sporting director.
He did not attend United’s game against Blackburn last weekend or Monday’s 4-3 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.