Leeds United have been dealt a blow in their bid to sign Thiago Almada, after his Vélez Sarsfield teammate Fernando Gago insisted he was staying in Argentina for another season.
Dubbed the ‘new Lionel Messi’ due to his flair, balance and 1.67m frame, Almada is considered one of the most exciting young players in world football.
The 19-year-old has been linked with a move to Leeds after talking up the Whites manager – and fellow Argentinian – Marcelo Bielsa.
However, any potential transfer has been played down by his teammate Gago, who says Almada has promised to stay at Vélez Sarsfield for another year.
“Everyone knows when it is time to go,” Gago told newspaper Olé.
“But hey, he’s going to have to stay another year because he already gave me his word. If he doesn’t comply, I won’t let him leave the house.”
Leeds secured their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence at the end of the 2019/20 season, booking their place in the top flight after being promoted as league champions.
The club will go about assembling a squad to compete with English football’s elite over the summer, and have been linked with Gent attacking midfielder Jonathan David, and Girona forward Cristhian Stuani ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Speculation arose regarding the club’s interest in Almada – who has also been linked with Barcelona and Manchester United – following comments the teenager made about Bielsa.
“I would like Bielsa to coach me,” Almada said. “My friends sent me something about Bielsa, but I am calm. Whether it happens or not, we have to see.
“I don’t watch much soccer, but I saw some Leeds highlights and I saw something similar to what we did in Velez with [Gabriel] Heinze.”
Almada is currently coached by compatriot and former Manchester United fullback Gabriel Heinze at Vélez Sarsfield.