COMMENT By Will Butcher
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is renowned for his willingness to dip into the transfer market, with 44 signings since his April 2014 takeover.
Of those 44 recruits, 14 have put pen to paper on Leeds deals from Italy with the help of Cellino’s Italian connections.
But who are the best three signings since the former Cagliari owner bought a 75% stake in the Championship giants?
3. Gaetano Berardi
The tenacious Switzerland international has shown consistency and passion throughout his two years at Leeds, making 54 appearances since moving to Elland Road.
Although not offering an awful amount going forward, the former Sampdoria and Brescia defender is reliable and consistent at the back.
What’s more, he was a bargain. The full-back joined Leeds for less than £100,000 and for such a nominal fee, Berardi has been a vital member of the Leeds squad.
2. Mirco Antenucci
Former Italy Under-17 international Antenucci warmed the hearts of Leeds fans during his two years at Elland Road, despite not being given the first-team chances that he perhaps deserved.
The former Torino striker averaged a goal every four games for Leeds, despite 30 of his 80 appearances coming from the bench. He scored 19 goals during his time at Elland Road, adding another 10 in assists.
The Italian, who now plies his trade for Serie B side S.P.A.L., gave Leeds purpose in the final third during his two years with his direct approach and ability to play as a striker, a number 10 or out wide.
1. Liam Bridcutt
The Scotland international was at the top of Leeds’ shortlist this summer following a superb loan spell last season at Elland Road, where he stabilised the Yorkshire outfit’s defence in 28 league and cup encounters.
The Chelsea academy graduate gave Leeds something they’ve been missing for a long time, in a sturdy, combative midfield general that remains disciplined when the other midfielders attack.
Manager Garry Monk identified this and moved to sign the former Sunderland man permanently this summer for around £1million, testament to his impressive performances last season.
In other Leeds news, this former target has moved to Championship rivals Bristol City.