Tug-of-war transfer target Fernando Forestieri has claimed that Leeds United’s initial failure to get in touch with either himself or his agent personally about a move to Elland Road was pivotal in him switching to Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls completed the signing of the former Watford forward on August 29 for an undisclosed seven-figure fee believed to be in the region of £3million – less than a week after Leeds were closing in on his signature after agreeing a deal with the Hornets.
The day before he said for Wednesday, Whites owner Massimo Cellino announced that he had pulled the plug on the transfer, stating that Argentina-born Forestieri didn’t possess the right mentality or hunger to play for the club.
Forestieri has defended himself, insisting that he heard nothing from Leeds about a possible transfer until after Wednesday had got in touch with his representatives about moving to Hillsborough, despite intense speculation he was destined to the Whites.
The 25-year-old says that talk of interest from Leeds were initially relayed to him by Watford sporting director Nicola Salerno, who worked in a similar role under Cellino.
But the fact that he and his agent heard nothing concrete from the Leeds end made him disconcerted about the situation and more so when he came under fire from Whites fans after not putting pen to paper. On the circumstances of his ‘move’ to Leeds that he insists never quite was so, Forestieri said: “It was one director who (before) was working in Leeds who is now at Watford (Salerno).
“One day, I came to the training ground and he said: ‘Nando, is everything done?’ And I say: ‘What?’ He said: ‘You need to go to Leeds.’ No-one spoke to me or my agent.
“I was disappointed because I saw on Twitter and saw so many thousand follow me in Leeds and say: ‘Ah, you w*****’. I didn’t understand. But after one week, the owner called my agent and asked if we wanted to go there. But after one week.
“It was after I had spoke with my agent with a different club (Wednesday) and for me, the good relations is here. I am very sorry for the Leeds fans.
“But in the beginning, for them not to speak with me or my agent is bad, I didn’t like this. I didn’t know anything about this (Leeds move).”
Forestieri has also cast aside criticism about his hunger and desire from Cellino after electing to join the Owls and claimed that the reason he feel unwilling to commit was done to the club’s failure to personally get in touch about a move north.
Asked if he thought Cellino’s comments were fair, he added: “No, because if you do not feel good to go to this club, maybe you don’t have a good mentality because you are not happy with this club. I come here and I have a good mentality because I really want to come here and not there. I think he (Cellino) said: ‘he does not have a good mentality to come here’ because I do not feel good and confident in this club’.
“But forget Leeds, I am happy here (at Sheffield Wednesday).”