Leeds Utd: Divisive player to make transfer return as Jose Mourinho makes €10.4m call on alternative
Diego Llorente will return to Leeds United this summer after Roma decided against his permanent signing in favour of a free-agent alternative.
The Spain defender moved to Elland Road upon their promotion to the Premier League in summer 2020, costing a fee of £18m from Real Sociedad. Despite struggling with injury throughout his first season, he was able to show his class during the latter stages of the campaign as Leeds secured a ninth-placed finish.
His second season at Leeds saw Llorente manage to steer clear of quite so many injuries, though his performances dipped as Leeds battled to avoid relegation.
And with his displays not yielding an upturn during the first half of the 2022/23 season, he was allowed to depart for Roma on loan back in January.
As part of the agreement to take him to Italy, Leeds managed to convince Roma to place a £15.6m (€18m) option to make the move permanent in the summer.
And while the player has outlined his determination to make his stay permanent, it seems Jose Mourinho has had other ideas.
Indeed, the 29-year-old has managed just eight appearances in all competitions since moving to Italy.
As a result, Mourinho has now seemingly ruled out his permanent signing with Corriere dello Sport confirming the decision.
The 10-times capped Spain defender will now return to Elland Road at the end of the season. And with Leeds deciding to hand him a new deal to summer 2026 earlier this season, he will be back at Leeds once the current campaign comes to an end.
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Leeds left with Llorente headache as Roma move for Evan Ndicka instead
Roma’s decision comes after the Italian club chose instead to sign free agent Evan Ndicka from Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Frenchman has established himself as one of the leading defenders in the Bundesliga during his five-year spell.
However, his is coming to an end this summer after rejecting their offers of a new deal. The likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Barcelona were among those considering approaches for the 23-year-old.
But it is Roma who have secured his signing, with Ndicka set to pen a five-year deal worth €10.4m over its duration.
That translates to around £35,000 a week; a salary somewhat cheaper than what Llorente earns and making the signing of Ndicka something of a no-brainer.
Quite where it will leave Llorente at Leeds remains to be seen.
Regardless of whether Leeds retain their Premier League status or not, it would seem unlikely the player will be seen in a Leeds shirt again.
And while the defender clearly has plenty of talent, he had very much gone stale at Leeds and has his heart set on a move elsewhere.
Now it seems a summer return to his homeland could be on the cards. Reports in Spain suggest Villarreal are closing monitoring his situation and could look to pounce if the price is right.
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