"They are a sleeping giant as everyone knows. Probably the only big brand left in English football that could grow in terms of value."
Leeds United's Elland Road ground
However, speaking to Talksport on Tuesday, former Derby County and Nottingham Forest striker Dean Saunders disputed the Italian's claim and suggested that both his old sides are comparable to Leeds in terms of stature.
"No I don't agree with that," he told the Jim White show. "There's some big ones in the Championship. What about Forest, Derby and all them?"
Former Derby and Forest striker Dean Saunders
Leeds (=13th) ranked the highest of all three in study conducted by the Daily Mail last year, which used six categories - crowds, global fanbase, trophies, average league position, player quality (i.e. number of internationals) and income - to determine the country's biggest clubs.
The Whites topped all but two of those categories - trophies and player quality - with two-time European Cup winners Forest (20th) leading the way in both.
Forest are thought to be closing in on a takeover of their own, while internet entrepreneur Mel Morris became the sole owner of Derby, who ranked 22nd in the Daily Mail's study, in September last year.
The Rams have been the closest of the tree clubs to securing a return to the Premier League in recent seasons, and are only three points behind fifth-place Leeds this term, despite a poor start.
Derby are rejuvenated under Steve McClaren