LEEDS WILL NOT BE making leading scorer Luciano Becchio another contract offer as he edges closer to the Elland Road exit door, according to manager Neil Warnock.
The Argentinean striker, who has 19 goals to his name this season, handed in a transfer request yesterday, disrupting United’s planning for Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Tottenham.
Becchio’s request to move on comes amid three bids for him from overseas clubs, one believed to be in China, and towards the end of a month which has seen Warnock criticise the player for allowing his head to be turned by talk of a move away.
The 29-year-old has 18 months left to run on his current deal and Warnock claimed today that they have offered him a new three-and-a-half-year one on the best terms he has known since moving to the club in February last year.
New owners GFH Capital will not be increasing the offer, though, meaning the odds of Becchio moving on before next Thursday are short.
“It’s been below the surface for a while now. We have been talking about a new contract for Luciano but it’s the player’s prerogative,” Warnock said. “We had two offers which we turned down and another yesterday. They’re all from abroad.”
Press Association Sport understands it is Becchio’s preference to remain at Elland Road, but this is not the first time Leeds’ fans have seen their leading player go through a transfer saga. In recent windows, Jermaine Beckford, Max Gradel, Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass have all moved on.
Such moves led supporters to protest against then owner Ken Bates for a perceived lack of investment and Becchio’s situation means GFH Capital are now facing similar accusations.
Warnock, though, is keen to stress that Becchio is looking at things from a financial point of view rather than an ambition one.
“I’ve had a chat with him and what we said remains private,” he said.
“He was a late starter in professional football and he feels at the moment, that the opportunities he will get abroad, and the type of figures he’s been given, he will have security for life.
“He is thinking about his family and his life. We have offered him three and a half years, on more than anyone I’ve known since I’ve been here, but that was not acceptable to his advisors.
“But he knows come Thursday that if he is still here, he gets on with it. There have been no problems apart from that last couple of weeks when he’s not given 100%. I don’t think they (GFH) can (offer an improved deal). We have offered him a Premier League contract.”
Regardless of whether or not Becchio is a Leeds player next month, talk over his future has been one of a number of distractions Warnock has had to contend with this week.
Newspaper reports this morning had Aston Villa defender Matt Lowton saying Warnock had told him and his fellow ball boys when manager of Sheffield United to engage in the sort of time-wasting that was seen prior to Eden Hazard’s incident at Swansea on Wednesday.
Warnock, though, denied all knowledge of it, saying: “There’s obviously not a lot to write about today. There’s nothing in that. I think the multi-ball system has caused the problems but I have never spoken to a ball boy.”
The 64-year-old also refused to be drawn on reports linking him with moves for both Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock and former Leeds winger Max Gradel, now of St Etienne, and said he would assess Becchio’s state of mind in a training session tomorrow.