Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leeds United: Viviani agents set for last-ditch talks

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s advisors will hold a last round of talks with Leeds United tomorrow in an attempt to salvage his move to Elland Road.
Representatives of the Roma midfielder plan to speak to the Championship club again in the next 24 hours, despite United owner Massimo Cellino calling off the transfer over the weekend.
Cellino told the YEP that Viviani was “out” after three days of discussions in Leeds last week failed to secure an agreement over his season-long loan from Serie A.
The 22-year-old flew home to Rome yesterday believing a transfer to Elland Road was still a possibility, with Nicola Salerno - Cellino’s right-hand man - promising to continue negotiations tomorrow.
Viviani’s camp indicated that the Italy Under-21 international wanted to use the weekend to make a final decision over his future with a number of Italian clubs interested in signing him, but Cellino said: “I’ve already decided. He is out.”
Giovanni Ferro, one of Viviani’s representatives, said he was “surprised” by Cellino’s comments, saying: “When we left, Mr Salerno told us that we could have more contact.”
Asked if he thought the deal was dead, Ferro said: “I’ll talk with director Salerno again (tomorrow).”
Viviani’s temporary switch from Roma appeared to be a formality in the early stages of this week after he travelled to England to tie up his move.
He watched Leeds lose 2-0 at Mansfield Town on Tuesday night and was expected to sign before yesterday’s friendly at Chesterfield but his camp opted to return to Italy with his contract unsigned on Friday night.
Viviani is a highly-rated prospect who has captained Roma’s youth team and was recently called up by Italy to a pre-World Cup training camp.
He has three years left on his contract at Roma having signed a five-year deal in 2012.
With his transfer in serious doubt, United’s search for new players is becoming increasingly urgent with the Championship season less than two weeks away.
The club claimed a late 2-2 draw at Chesterfield, with Rodolph Austin scoring twice from the penalty spot.
Speaking afterwards, head coach David Hockaday said: “We’re still looking to strengthen and it’s pretty obvious that we need to. The Championship’s a tough, uncompromising league.”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leeds United: Viviani deal off, says Cellino

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s transfer to Leeds United appears to be dead after club owner Massimo Cellino said he was abandoning the midfielder’s loan move from Roma.
Viviani’s advisors expected talks with Leeds to resume on Monday after three days of discussions this week, but Cellino said: “I’ve already decided. He is out.”
United had arranged a deal to take Viviani on a season-long loan and he came to England from Italy on Tuesday to seal the transfer.
But negotiations in the past 72 hours failed to force an agreement and Viviani and his camp were due to fly back to Rome today.
His agent was quoted by Italian media as saying that Viviani would take the weekend to reach a final decision on his options with Serie A sides also interested in signing him but denied that the player would be speaking to any other clubs.
Cellino, who has been abroad all week, spoke with confidence about the proposed deal on Thursday, saying “I think we’ll be fine”, but his latest comments seem to have drawn a line under a protracted saga.
Viviani is an Italian Under-21 international and a defensive playmaker who has played six times for Roma. He has also captained the club’s youth team and was in line to become Leeds’ sixth summer signing.
United have already recruited four players from the Italian leagues - Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Souleymane Doukara and Tommaso Bianchi - but an attempt to sign Giuseppe Bellusci from Catania fell through after Cellino refused to meet the centre-back’s wage demands.
In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino said that another “five or six” signings would be made by Leeds in this transfer window and set the club’s budget for new players at £15m.

Leeds United: Viviani move in fresh doubt

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s proposed transfer to Leeds United is mired in confusion tonight with the midfielder and his advisors preparing to fly back to Rome with no agreement reached.
Viviani’s camp have arranged to return to Italy from England tomorrow following a week of protracted and unsuccessful negotiations over the 22-year-old’s loan to Elland Road.
A season-long move from Serie A club Roma appeared to be a formality on Tuesday after Viviani travelled to Leeds and attended United’s pre-season friendly at Mansfield Town.
But discussions in the past 72 hours have failed to push the deal over the line, despite Roma’s apparent willingness to send the Italy Under-21 international to the Championship for the whole of the 2014-15 season.
Neither Viviani’s agent nor Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, who has been abroad all week, have commented on the reasons behind the impasse, though the midfielder’s advisors are known to have been concerned about the standard of United’s performance in their 2-0 loss to Mansfield.
Viviani - a defensive playmaker who has played six times for Roma and captained their youth team - was expected to become Leeds’ sixth summer signing and Cellino insisted he was confident of pushing the transfer through yesterday evening, saying: “I think we’ll be fine.”
But Viviani’s agent, Giovanni Ferro, cast fresh doubt over the move tonight, saying: “Tomorrow we go back to Rome and see (what happens) in the next few days.”
Reports from Italy say talks will begin again on Monday.
United have already signed four players from the Italian leagues - Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Souleymane Doukara and Tommaso Bianchi - but an attempt to land Giuseppe Bellusci from Catania collapsed after Cellino refused to meet the centre-back’s wage demands.
In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino said that another “five or six” signings would be made by Leeds in this transfer window and set the club’s budget for new players at £15m.

Leeds striker Walters may need surgery after Mansfield injury

Yorkshire Post 25/7/14
Lewis Walters’ prospects of a first-team breakthrough at Leeds United have been hampered by the news that the striker could require surgery on a knee injury.
Walters is to undergo examinations by a specialist consultant as Leeds wait to learn if the damaged cartilage he suffered in their friendly at Mansfield Town will force the club to send him for an operation.
The 19-year-old academy product limped out of Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Field Mill after injuring himself off the ball.
Walters attempted to play on but was substituted minutes later when he collapsed in more pain inside Mansfield’s box after heading a half-chance wide.
Head coach David Hockaday predicted immediately after full-time that the forward would be missing for “a few weeks at least” and initial assessments of the injury have raised the possibility of Walters going under the knife.
“It’s quite serious, or potentially quite serious,” Hockaday said. “It’s damage to the cartilage and I think it’s a bad one, although at this stage we’re still not 100 per cent sure.
“How long that will take to heal we don’t know as yet. We need to let the swelling settle down. He’s had a scan on the injury and he’s going to see a consultant so we’ll take it from there.”
Hockaday has used Walters throughout pre-season, giving clear signs that the teenager would be involved with his first-team squad when the Championship term starts.
Walters, who turned professional and signed a two-year deal with Leeds last summer, began pushing his claim for a senior debut towards the end of last season and made the bench for United’s visit to Bournemouth in February.
Leeds were run ragged at Dean Court, losing 4-1, and Walters sat as an unused substitute throughout the game.
Hockaday, however, took him to Italy for United’s recent tour and said the striker was in line for a meaningful role this season. He is set to miss the club’s remaining friendlies, however, and the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
Hockaday said: “Lewis has been playing really well and he’s a big loss to us.
“He was beyond the fringes of the first team and he was right in there, playing really well, making intelligent runs and getting in behind defences.
“His work ethic was good, he’s a product of the academy and as I keep saying, I’m into giving young players a chance. It’s unfortunate for him.”
Noel Hunt was also injured during Tuesday’s match, over-extending his hamstring as he attempted an overhead kick in the opening minutes, and he will sit out of tomorrow’s trip to Chesterfield.
But Hockaday said: “He’s looking at about two weeks so it’s not so serious.
“He tried the overhead kick, didn’t connect and he over-extended his hamstring. He felt it again later on so we took him off as a precaution.”
Hockaday, who is still awaiting the outcome of protracted negotiations between Leeds and prospective signing Federico Viviani, reiterated his plan to use his preferred formation and strongest possible line-up at Chesterfield.
The 56-year-old denied that United’s first Championship opponents, Millwall, would gain any advantage from him showing his hand two weeks in advance, saying: “I can’t not play my team. We have to get used to playing with each other. Millwall are looking at us and we’re looking at them. There’s no secrets.
“I’ve named the starting XI. There were people happy, people relieved and other people who said ‘okay, how am I going to get in the team?’ The whole group were super.”

Leeds trying to push Viviani deal over the line

Vital Leeds 23/7/14
Leeds United have reportedly hit a snag in their attempts to sign Roma midfielder Federico Viviani.
Viviani and his representatives were present on Tuesday night as Leeds lost their pre-season game at Mansfield 2-0 and it is believed they were not impressed with what they saw.
Leeds sporting director Nicola Salerno met with Viviani and his representatives today as they looked to seal a season long loan with a view to a permanent deal and the two parties had different opinions on how the deal was progressing. Salerno told la bottega del calciofilo
A number of Italian clubs also wants the 22-year-old Italian under-21 international and Leeds are hoping they can tie up the deal when they meet again this evening.
It is believed that owner Massimo Cellino is now talking with the representatives despite being away.

Mansfield Town 2 Leeds United 0: Poor errors cost us - Hockaday

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/7/14
by Phil Hay
David Hockaday blamed individual errors and insisted Leeds United were showing definite signs of improvement, despite a 2-0 defeat to Mansfield Town last night.
Leeds suffered their first loss of pre-season after a brace from Mansfield’s Liam Hearn in the final 20 minutes took advantage of bad mistakes from Steve Morison and Zac Thompson. Hearn struck from the penalty spot in the 70th minute after Morison’s mis-hit back-pass forced goalkeeper Marco Silvestri to bring down one of Mansfield’s four trialists, and he scored again in the closing stages after Thompson lost his footing as he chased a through ball.
The loss to a League Two side came less than three weeks before the start of the new Championship season and United’s first league game away to Millwall. A number of new signings are likely to arrive at Elland Road before then, however, and midfielder Federico Viviani, who watched the match at Field Mill yesterday, is expected to complete his loan move from Roma later this afternoon. The 22-year-old travelled to Leeds from Italy yesterday to finalise a season-long transfer,
Hockaday, who promised to field his strongest starting line-up during this Saturday’s friendly at Chesterfield, said: “I was happy for a lot of the game.
“Mansfield set up to stop us playing and showed us respect but I couldn’t see them scoring unless we made mistakes – and we did make mistakes. We also got in some great positions and created chances that we should have been burying.
“The two goals were from individual errors and we can eradicate that. I’m not saying we ripped the seat off Mansfield but we were dominant, we were comfortable and we should have come away with 0-0 minimum.
“The thing that disappointed me is that we got into a lot of good positions but didn’t find that final pass or put the ball in the net. With better quality, that would have been a comfortable victory for us.
“I’m not saying results aren’t important because I’m a competitive man and I want to win games but there’s more to pre-season games than results. I’m seeing an improvement in our performances.”
Leeds lost striker Noel Hunt and Lewis Walters to injury in the early stages of last night’s match.
United are still to fully diagnose the damage but Hockaday said both players were likely to be missing “for a few weeks.”

Mansfield Town 2 Leeds United 0 - Whites handed an early wake-up call

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/7/14
When David Hockaday says that nothing in his planning for Leeds United’s season is “etched in stone”, he genuinely means it. The club’s head coach is working on shifting sands at Elland Road, waiting for the ground around him to settle.
Leeds are three games into their pre-season programme but still in the realms of fitness exercises and yet to fully break the back of the transfer market. Hockaday’s tactics and formations, like those used in a fairly painful friendly at Mansfield Town last night, are being used in the knowledge that five or six more players could join his squad before the football matters.
One of those, Federico Viviani, is in the final throes of agreeing a season-long loan from Roma and should officially join United later today. The 22-year-old travelled to Field Mill yesterday with his transfer pending, a spectator at a game which was never a spectacle, and the list of other potential signings continues to evolve too – Andy Delort, a goalscorer who displayed a prolific streak in the French second division last season, the latest to be credibly linked with Leeds.
Viviani is renowned as a playmaker with sharp technical ability and a dangerous free-kick. Delort is a through-and-through striker whose record with Tours in 2013-14 shows 24 goals from 36 matches. Both are the sort of footballers – on reputation at any rate – who Leeds could do with as the Championship term draws nearer.
Two late goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith saw off Guiseley over the weekend, on an afternoon when chances generally eluded Leeds, and a Mansfield team with four unnamed trialists in their squad provided more ambitious resistance on a warm and pleasant evening. Hockaday’s players are fit enough and drilled enough but by his own admission, creativity needs to show itself soon. That is Viviani’s strength, according to those who have watched him in Italy.
Last night’s friendly – settled in Mansfield’s favour by a second-half brace from Liam Hearn – was a role-reversal from Saturday’s win over Guiseley: the team used for the final 30 minutes at Nethermoor penned in for a full hour against Mansfield as the push towards full appearances continued. Chesterfield away this weekend is likely to see several players break 90 minutes and might also give the first indication of how Hockaday sees his current team at its best.
“Chesterfield and Swindon (next Tuesday) will give me a real good picture,” Hockaday said after United’s 2-0 victory over Guiseley. “I’m not saying Mansfield won’t but the nearer you get to the start of the season, the closer I’ll get to my starting line-up.”
Viviani’s first chance to find his feet should come at Chesterfield and Gaetano Berardi was given his debut last night, four days after signing on a two-year deal from Sampdoria.
The right-back attended Guiseley without playing and Hockaday named him on the bench at Mansfield but declined to use him again after his original plan was broken up by early injuries to Noel Hunt and Lewis Walters.
Hunt has found himself in the thick of recent interviews given by United owner Massimo Cellino, left in no doubt that he is part of the furniture at Elland Road despite a difficult first season here.
Cellino talked last week of Hunt blossoming again, about the possibility of him becoming prolific, but the striker was bothered by a tight hamstring from an early stage at Field Mill and conceded defeat in his attempt to run it off after 16 minutes. A similar strain was at the root of some of Hunt’s problems last season and Leeds will diagnose the severity of his latest injury today.
Nine minutes later, the situation got worse. Walters was injured off the ball, pulling up in a similar fashion to Hunt, and despite asking to stay on the pitch, he was promptly removed when he headed a half-chance wide and crumpled to the floor in a heap.
Those two unexpected losses brought Tommaso Bianchi and Dominic Poleon into a game which was already going nowhere.
The first half passed without a chance of note for 41 minutes, with Leeds trapped in a narrow system. Rudy Austin drove one free-kick into the crowd and Simon Heslop did likewise at the other end, clearing Stuart Taylor’s crossbar by the height of the stand behind it.
Taylor made only one save, from a curling cross which his defence left for him.
Fergus Bell eventually produced a better stab at goal with a 41st-minute shot which bounced a yard wide and Alex Fisher wasted an opportunity to steer the ball into an empty net a minute later when Taylor found himself exposed 12 yards in front of his line. Leeds rallied briefly after that and Bianchi should have scored when he met Sam Byram’s cut-back with a loose finish beyond a post.
The pace of the game rose noticeably after half-time and Mansfield’s trialist keeper denied Matt Smith with his legs after Luke Murphy slotted the ball through a hole in the home defence. Murphy began to see possession just as his shift ended but Hockaday stuck to his strategy and introduced 10 substitutes on the hour.
They fell behind 10 minutes later as another game which looked destined to finish goalless produced a breakthrough late on. Steve Morison sold Marco Silvestri short with a horrible back-pass which committed the keeper to a challenge on one of Mansfield’s trialists.
Silvestri took the players legs and Hearn stepped up to take the penalty, slotting it to the keeper’s right and winning the match at a stroke.
For good measure, Hearn scored again seven minutes from time as United’s defence made a mess of a simple through-ball and allowed him to stab the ball past a helpless Silvestri. An absent Cellino will digest the feedback with interest.
Mansfield: Trialist, Sutton, Dempster, Riley, Beevers, Murray, Heslop, Trialist, F Bell, Palmer, Fisher. Subs: Trialist, A Bell, Marsden, McGuire, Clements, Rhead, Hearn, Trialist.
Leeds United: S Taylor (Silvestri 60), Byram (Thompson 60), Pearce (Lees 60), Wootton (Killock 60), Warnock (C Taylor 60), White (Norris 60), Austin (Tonge 60), Murphy (Cook 60), Hunt (Bianchi 16), Walters (Poleon 25), Smith (Doukara). Sub (not used): Berardi.

Two-Year Contract at Leeds United for Nicola Salerno

Inside Futbol 22/7/14
Leeds United have handed Nicola Salerno a two-year contract at the club, formalising the role he has already been playing for the Elland Road outfit.
Salerno served as sporting director at Cagliari under current Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, but departed when Cellino sold the Serie A side earlier this summer.
He rejected an offer to head across Sardinia to Palermo and opted to join Cellino at Leeds, helping the president identify and sign players from the Italian market for his new club.
According to Italian outlet Tutto Mercato, Salerno has penned a two-year contract at Elland Road, with the formal announcement set to be made in the near future.
Salerno has played a key role in guiding Leeds' transfer policy this summer.
It is a policy which has already seen goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, right-back Gaetano Berardi, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukaka land at the club.
They are set to be joined by Roma midfielder Federico Viviani.