Leeds United: Juventus star wanted at Elland Road

ITALIAN international Simone Pepe is understood to be a target for Leeds United after being released by Juventus.

Sheffield United's Jamie Murphy

But the 31-year-old winger will also attract the attention of several top Serie A sides after collecting four league title winners’ medals with the ‘Old Lady.’

Pepe started out at home-town club Roma but never played in the first team. He has shone in Serie A for 10 seasons, mainly for Udinese and Juventus, scoring 29 goals in 219 games despite being hindered by injuries in recent seasons.

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He has been linked with the Elland Road club since April, after Leeds owner Massimo Cellino said he was interested in bringing a series of Italian-based players to the club.

Ahead of his release Pepe, who appeared for Italy at the 2010 World Cup, said: “I have spent five fantastic years in amazing company at Juventus. I have given my heart and soul. Juventus have understood me and will keep an incredible feeling forever.”

Pepe joined Udinese midway through the 2005–06 campaign in a co-ownership deal, for €500,000, along with Salvatore Masiello and Nicola Santoni as part of the David Di Michele deal for €5.35m.

Juventus signed Pepe on loan for €2.6m in June, 2010, with the option to sign him permanently for €7.5m in July.

He scored five times in 30 matches in his first season in Turin.

If Leeds are unable to attract Pepe to England then a player closer to home could be on their radar.

With United striker Billy Sharp being linked with a return to Sheffield United, Leeds are likely to insist that Scotland Under-21 winger Jamie Murphy is part of any package.

Murphy has scored 17 goals in 94 appearances since joining the Blades from Motherwell in 2013 and signed a new contract in January, keeping him at Bramall lane until the summer of 2017.

Sheffield-born Sharp has scored just five goals in 33 appearances for Leeds since signing a two-year deal from Southampton in August, 2014.

The 29-year-old began his career with the Blades and returned from Scunthorpe in 2007, scoring eight goals in 51 games before netting 40 in 82 appearaqnces for Doncaster Rovers ahead of a £1.8m move to Southampton in January, 2012.