Leeds United: Transfer attention switches to other strikers

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty
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LEEDS United head coach Steve Evans may have to look elsewhere for a striker during the January transfer window.

Norwich City have made Kyle Lafferty available but only on a permanent transfer while Leeds want to sign him initially on loan before making the move permanent in the summer.

The Northern Ireland international is also wanted by Palermo in Italy and Red Star Belgrade in Serbia and Evans explained United’s position.

“We want it to be a loan deal with the option of a permanent,” he said. “Norwich City have respectfully said that they want it to be on a permanent. We’re not going to be doing it on a permanent initially.

“We want to be able, if it’s possible, to bring the player here but that’s proving very difficult. If it proves not to be the case then we’re not only thinking of Kyle Lafferty, there are other players we’re looking at.

“It’s not Kyle Lafferty or nobody. There are other options. If we take another option then the Kyle Lafferty interest will suddenly drop off.”

Leeds’ first January signing – Liam Bridcutt from Sunderland – was made on an extended loan to the end of this season and Evans confirmed that he had been in touch with Stoke City and Aston Villa about recruiting striker Peter Crouch and midfielder Jack Grealish on temporary terms.

The Leeds boss, however, said United and owner Massimo Cellino were ready to fund permanent signings during the current window.

“We’re very much in a position to do permanent deals,” Evans said.

“When it gets to the top end of the permanent deals, and it’s no secret that if we were in a position to take Kyle Lafferty it would be at the top end, the only way we would look at it is to bring the player in, see how he fits in and adapts to being here – of course with a clear option to purchase at the end of it.

“That’s what we’d like to do with it.

“There are others which if we could get over the line we’d be happy to make permanent. But they’re sometimes a little bit more difficult.”

Leeds centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci has been linked with Italian Serie A side Verona and Evans said United have rejected two bids for the player from “overseas”.

The club will listen to offers for fringe players like Tommaso Bianchi and Casper Sloth and there is also a question mark over striker Mirco Antenucci.

The 31-year-old, who is out of contract in June and yet to hold any talks about a new deal, is the subject of interest from Ascoli, the Italian second tier side.

Evans, who saw him pipped for the manager-of-the-month award for December by Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka, and Cellino have also categorically ruled out the sale of Lewis Cook amid rumours that Bournemouth had reached a deal for the midfielder.

The York-born 18-year-old is six months into a new two-year contract at Elland Road having committed his short-term future to the club in May.

Sam Byram, however, is widely expected to move on from Elland Road in the January transfer window having turned down an offer to extend a contract which ends in the summer.

West Ham United are one of several sides looking at him but Leeds are yet to receive a bid for the 22-year-old.