China to France switch hinders Leeds United hope of hero's return

St Etienne

It now looks increasingly likely that Max Gradel will not be returning to Leeds United anytime soon.

Leeds United have recently been linked with bringing in a former fan favourite to the club. Max Gradel left for Saint-Etienne in 2011 and has been superb since.

However he has struggled with injury recently, and this has certainly been his least productive season in a Les Verts strip.

His manager says he is going nowhere, Christophe Galtier stated this week:

“Max is needed. He wants additional playing time for the World Cup. He’s a player I do not want to leave. With Max the discussions will be healthy.”

However, with a World Cup coming up and Gradel dreaming of being in attendance with The Ivory Coast Elephants he needs first-team football - so why not return to the club where he had two great seasons?

His French club have reportedly put him up for sale - as they looked to bring in Guillaume Hoarau from his Chinese nightmare with Dalian Aerbin in January - so they must now consider ways of cutting the wage bill before doing so.

That seemed to give hope of a Gradel return to Elland Road, even though he scored on his first start of the season just a week after the tentative links.

But the Ivorian international was supposed to be on his way to make room for Hoarau - and they no longer need to do that.

The former Paris Saint-Germain centre forward has arrived in France from China to thrash out the details of a transfer to Bordeaux.

Their Ligue 1 rivals are after striking reinforcements to help them climb up the table and perhaps challenge the top three of Lille, Monaco and PSG.

Hoarau is a gamble - especially after a fruitless spell in China where he scored just three goals in 20 appearances.

But unfortunately Bordeaux’s gamble will make it very unlikely that Gradel will be seen returning to Elland Road in the January window.

image: © manuel | MC

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