By Alex Stevens

Noel Whelan has claimed Leeds should stick with Steve Evans rather than replace him with World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro.

Amid reports that Steve Evans will become the sixth manager of Massimo Cellino’s two-year Elland Road tenure to be axed, the controversial owner has spoken of his ideal candidate for the hot seat at the Championship’s best supported club.

The Mail has claimed that Italy World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro was in Leeds on Saturday for talks and is close to agreeing a deal to replace Evans.

Cellino has denied that Cannavaro is the next in line to take on one of the most perilous positions in English football.

But he has spoken freely of his attempts to persuade an elite manager to take on the task of steering Leeds back to the top flight and a place in the Champions League.

Former Leeds striker Whelan has given his verdict on Evans’ future and is not convinced that Cellino can entice someone of greater pedigree than the former Rotherham and Crawley boss.

“Only Massimo Cellino knows what his plans are for the manager and whether that’s Evans, who I think has done an excellent job,” Whelan told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “He’s done what he was supposed to and probably a little bit more and if he doesn’t get the shot at it then I think he has got a right to be a little bit aggrieved by that.

“I think a lot of people would actually now say ‘give him a chance’ because I think he has proven he deserves one.

“Who knows what he could actually achieve next season? Cannavaro won everything as a player but he is not proven as a manager and that’s the thing.

“He knows nothing about the Championship and it’s a different league altogether than he’s probably ever been used to.

“In that aspect of things, it’s an unknown. Evans has a pedigree – Cannavaro hasn’t as a manager.

“There’s no point just having ‘a name’ – you can go out and get bigger names if you wanted. But they know nothing about the Championship, they know nothing about this league and they know nothing about the players they need to bring in or what you need to get out of this league.

“Next season it is going to be even more difficult with the teams that are going to be coming down. I would rather stick with Evans.”

Steve Evans is hoping to sign a new player for Leeds by next week

Target man: Leeds boss Evans is keen to hold new contract talks

Evans has consistently said he wants to remain in charge at Leeds and admitted after the win over Reading on Saturday that he is waiting for Cellino to invite him to hold contract discussions.

That is looking an increasingly distant prospect as Cellino failed to provide the Scot with any reassurances about his future, with his contract expiring in June.

“He talks too much,” Cellino told the Telegraph. “He has to learn to shut his mouth. I’ve told him so many times to stop, you have no idea. But he doesn’t.”

Brian McDermott, Dave Hockaday, Darko Milanic, Neil Redfearn and Uwe Rosler have already been shown the exit door by Cellino.

Evans passed Redfearn on Saturday to become Cellino’s longest-serving manager with 34 matches at the helm.

In other Leeds news, a member of Evans’ backroom staff has decided to quit at the end of the season.