World Cup could determine future of Leeds favourite Gradel

The former Whites man, who is on the books at St Etienne in Ligue 1, could earn himself a move to a major European club if he impresses in Brazil.

Max Gradel may have made his name as a precocious young talent at Elland Road, but the former Leicester City academy star and Leeds United favourite could soon be gracing the biggest stages in world football – provided he takes his domestic form through to the World Cup.

Signed after a series of loan spells back in January of 2010, the winger scored a total of 22 goals in 63 games for the Yorkshire club, providing many a memorable moment in an otherwise turbulent time for Leeds United.

His time in the Championship proved to be particularly worthwhile for Gradel too, with a series of match-winning displays for the Whites alerting those behind the scenes of the Ivory Coast national team to his obvious talents.

Soon enough, the player was catching the eye of clubs on the continent too, with France’s most successful side – St Etienne – purchasing the player in August of 2011.

A tally of 11 goals in 61 appearances for Les Verts, as well as a Coupe de la Ligue victory last season helped Gradel further cement his status in the national team setup, with appearances at the two most recent African Cup of Nations competitions to his name.

But the biggest test of all could be yet to come with the World Cup just around the corner and rumours of a potential big-money move for Gradel in the offing.

A number of clubs from the Premier League, for instance, are believed to be tracking the winger with Sky Sports naming West Ham United among the list of potential suitors.

But if Gradel is serious about a move to the English top-flight  then Ivory Coast’s three group stage games could prove to be an audition of his credentials.

His time at Leeds may have been all-too-brief, but should he decide on a move back to these shores, then here’s hoping Ross McCormack can fire the Whites back to the top-flight and setup a potential reunion with the African star.

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