Negotiations for the owners of Paris Saint-Germain to buy Leeds United are progressing, but slowly, according to reports in France.
Last month Whites chairman Andrea Radrizzani revealed Qatari billionaire Nasser al-Khelaifi had been in touch to propose investment which could allow the Championship club to “reach the level” of Manchester City. Al-Khelaifi is chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), a subsidiary of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority.
According to respected French sports newspaper L'Equipe, the talks are ongoing, with a QSI source quoted as saying: “There are real discussions but it's advancing slowly. But it could all accelerate tomorrow.”
The attraction of a deal is obvious on both sides. Leeds are looking for new investment as they look to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, and QSI have a track record with PSG. A club of Leeds's stature and history with the potential to win promotion to the world's most lucrative domestic football league would appeal to al-Khelaifi – particularly if he can buy it at a Championship price.
L'Equipe's source calls Leeds “a very beautiful brand with which we can create a story.”
QSI apparently view Leeds as “an opportunity, it's interesting and it's a big name in English football that we can develop and bring back (to the Premier League).”
With average gates of over 35,000 this season, Leeds are comfortably the best-supported club in the Championship, and in Marcelo Biela they have one of world football's most-respected coaches.
The Premier League's television deals dwarf the Football League's and outstrip all the major European domestic competitions. Even finishing bottom of the division is worth a nine-figure fee.
QSI bought PSG in 2012, and they have won Ligue 1 in every full season the Qataris have overseen, bar 2016-17. Much to the frustration of their owners, PSG have been unable to translate their domestic domination into the Champions League, reaching four consecutive quarter-finals, but knocked out in the last 16 for the last three years.
This is despite PSG making the two most expensive transfers of all time, signing Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for £116m in 2018, and Neymar from Barcelona for £198m the previous year.
Radrizzani said last month QSI were one of three options as he looked for further investment. The others were an un-named Leeds fan based in the United States of America, and the owner of a club in Radrizzani's native Italy.
He showed his willingness to bring in outside investment last year when he sold a 10 per cent stake to the owners of the San Francisco 49ers.
Despite their size, Leeds were restrained in last summer's transfer market, with their key signings coming on loan, while around £26m was raised in player sales. That included Jack Clarke, who was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £10m, but loaned back.
Bielsa anyway favours a tight squad, but the Whites have been linked with a move for Rob Green if they need cover for Kiko Casilla, who is fighting a Football Association charge for using racist language.
Former England goalkeeper Green announced his retirement in May after being released by Chelsea, and has been working as a media pundit.
Radrizzani explained the bulk of last summer's investment centred around retaining former Argentina and Athletic Bilbao coach Bielsa, and his backroom staff.
Leeds sold a 10 per cent stake to 49ers Enterprises, the finance entity behind NFL franchise the San Francisco 49ers, last year.
The Whites are well-placed to win promotion at this early stage of the season, two points off the top of the Championship, having briefly led it on Saturday.