Leeds to reportedly lose out on prolific striker target to Cellino's former club

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Reported Leeds United target Leonardo Pavoletti is reportedly close to joining Cagliari - Massimo Cellino’s former club.

Since Massimo Cellino completed his takeover at Elland Road, Leeds United have been hotly tipped to source reinforcements on the transfer market from his native Italy.

Just days ago the 58-year-old confirmed the captures of goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and midfielder Tommaso Bianchi, signaling the first playing squad arrivals from the peninsula.

The likes of Daniele Cacia and Jonathan Rossini - already training with the squad - remain linked with the Whites, and the rest of the summer is likely to see a raft of further additions sourced from Serie A and Serie B.

One particular Italian target that looks to have slipped out of Leeds’ grasp, however, is free-scoring Sassuolo-owned forward Leonardo Pavoletti.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a prolific run on loan at Varese last term, hitting the third most goals in Serie B with 20 strikes on the campaign.

But with young talents Domenico Berardi and Simone Zaza monopolising space in the attack at parent club Sassuolo, it always looked likely he wouldn’t return be integrated at the Mapei Stadium.

Earlier this month Leeds were said to be in ‘pole position’ for Pavoletti’s signature despite interest from Palermo, looking primed to pull off a coup of sorts.

According to transfer expert Alfredo Pedulla, they will instead miss out on the striker - to Cellino’s former side Cagliari of all clubs.

‘Cagliari started with an offer of €2million and went up to €2.2million,’ Pedulla writes. ‘There’s now a minimal distance between supply and demand.

“The weekend will be used to smooth the edges, by Monday and Tuesday everything should be okay.

‘Pavoletti, who will sign a four-year contract, is really excited about playing for [Cagliari coach Zdenek] Zeman, who asked for him with some insistence.’

There is a small hint of irony in Cagliari foreseeably landing Pavoletti, given the inextricable link between Cellino and the club he sold in order to purchase Leeds.

But beyond this, seeing the Italian fall Cagliari’s way highlights the difficulty of Cellino’s task - to compete with top flight outfits for talents who can lift the Whites back to the Premier League.

The Sardinia native has never been one to be deterred, though, and alongside right-hand man Nicola Salerno it is likely Cellino has alternatives to Pavoletti in mind with the transfer window still young.

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