By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Ascoli have clinched a deal to sign Leeds midfielder Tommaso Bianchi, according to a report.
The 27-year-old Italian spent the second half of the 2015-16 season on loan at the Serie B club and their survival in the division has cleared the way for him to join them permanently.
Yorshire Evening Post journalist Phil Hay has claimed on his personal Twitter account on Thursday morning that Ascoli have exercised the option in the loan deal to sign Bianchi permanently.
It is said that Ascoli negotiated a full-time option for Bianchi when they took him from Leeds in January but that option was dependent on the club avoiding relegation.
The club finished 15th in the Serie B table, two points clear of the drop, and are now expected to finalise Bianchi’s switch.
Ascoli have confirmed to me this morning that they have exercised the option to sign Tommaso Bianchi. Joins from Leeds on a permanent deal.
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) June 30, 2016
The Yorkshire Evening Post has previously claimed Bianchi is set to sign a three-year contract with Ascoli and end his stay at Elland Road.
Bianchi made an inauspicious start to his spell with Ascoli, incurring a red card on his debut in a 3-0 defeat to Cesena, but he has played 16 times and helped the club secure safety at the end of a hard season.
The midfielder has two years left on the Leeds contract that he signed in 2014 after he was among the first clutch of signings made following Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds two years ago.
Bianchi, who transferred to England from Serie A side Sassuolo, initially made the team in the 2014-15 campaign but then had a lengthy absence from the first team.
Bianchi’s prospects were hindered by a knee operation in February 2015 and a further bout of surgery six months later.
He has not played for Leeds since starting in a 2-0 win at Reading 16 months ago, the last of his 26 appearances for the club.
In other Leeds news, the club are closing in on the signing of a player from the Premier League.