Diego Llorente 'steps forward' and steps out at end of positive transfer window for Leeds United

Diego Llorente has described swapping Leeds United for Roma as "a big step forward in my career."

With the 11pm deadline past, but the possibility of deals still being completed, it looked as though the Spanish defender was going to be the big departure from Elland Road in January.

Talk of a late Leicester City move for Jack Harrison rumbled on all day, but it appears the Whites have been able to see it off.

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They were much more relaxed about losing Llorente, who has only started one Premier League since the 5-2 defeat at Brentford in early September.

"STEP FORWARD": Leeds United centre-back Diego Llorente has joined Roma on loan"STEP FORWARD": Leeds United centre-back Diego Llorente has joined Roma on loan
"STEP FORWARD": Leeds United centre-back Diego Llorente has joined Roma on loan

The deal is initially a loan, but with a view to it becoming permanent. If and when it does, Leeds are expected to make a profit on their initial £18m outlay when they signed Llorente from Real Sociedad after winning promotion back to the top flight in 2020.

They probably owe that to the decision before Christmas to hand the 29-year-old a new contract until 2026. He lasted 39 days of it.

Llorente started the campaign as a first-choice centre-back but has dropped behind Robin Koch in the pecking order to be the right-sided player there.

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Now all Leeds’ specialists in that position apart from German international Koch are left-footers but Max Wober and Pascal Struijk are noted for their flexibility and should have few problems playing alongside captain Liam Cooper if required.

The Premier League has overtaken Serie A, which for a long time was regarded as the best league in the world, but Llorente sees moving to Jose Mourinho's Roma as career progression.

"When the possibility of coming to Roma was presented to me I did not need to think about it twice," he said. "Coming here is a big step forward for me in my career and I want to make the most of it.

Rome is beautiful, an incredible city, and I think it is almost impossible to find a better place to play football. The club is fighting to achieve great things on all fronts this season and I am ready to make my contribution towards that.”

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Central defender Diogo Monteiro arrived on the day Llorente left, but is not seen as a direct replacement, certainly not in the short-term.

Monteiro is an 18-year-old Portuguese youth international who joins from Swiss Super League side Servette, and is seen initially as a development player in the mould of past signings such as Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Crysencio Summerville and Lewis Bate.

His arrival came so late in the window because under post-Brexit rules, clubs have to wait for overseas players to reach 18 before they can sign them.

Coach Jesse Marsch has always made clear he rates Harrison, a winger he knows from their time at rival New York clubs, but as the Whites showed with Mateusz Klich in January, they are not prepared to keep players against their will.

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Klich moved to Major League Soccer side DC United in search of more game-time.

With Wober and striker Georginio Rutter also joining this month, the latter for a club record fee from Hoffenheim, it has been a positive window for the Whites and one which has shown their confidence in Marsch.