Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has said that the club recently opted out of a deal to sign Watford forward Fernando Forestieri after deciding the player did not have "the right mentality" to play for the club. The claim came amid keen transfer interest in Forestieri from Leeds' Championship rivals.
According to reports from The Telegraph last weekend, the former Italian youth international was edging closer to a switch to Elland Road after Leeds settled on a financial package worth approximately £3m ($4.6m). Despite that fee being agreed, doubts continued to persist over Forestieri's willingness to complete such a transfer, with the likes of West Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday and also Reading believed to be tracking the 25-year-old.
Forestieri made 26 appearances for Watford last term as they won promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 2007. He has yet to feature in the league since Quique Sanchez Flores was appointed as Slavisa Jokanovic's successor at Vicarage Road in July. He was, however, an unused substitute for the goalless draw with Southampton and played a full 90 minutes in midweek as a much-changed Watford side lost 1-0 to Preston in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
With Watford only permitted to name a maximum of 17 foreign-born players in their 25-man squad for the season, players such as Forestieri and even popular striker Matej Vydra have seen their futures thrown into doubt amid a flurry of transfer activity that has increased competition for places even further.
Leeds manager Uwe Rosler deflected questions regarding any transfer on Thursday (27 August) by insisting that he did not know where things stood with regard to the player's future. Controversial owner Cellino has now sought to bring the saga to a firm conclusion.
"We decided on Tuesday that we would not be signing Forestieri," he said. "It was clear he didn't have the right mentality needed to come to Leeds," he told the club's official website prior to the upcoming visit to Derby County on 29 August. "I want players to show a hunger and desire to come here – but he did not.
"It was not about the money. A player could cost £3m, £5m or be a free transfer, but if their mentality isn't right then I will not sign them for Leeds. Players like Wood, Adeyemi and Dallas are what we need here – they gave everything to show that they wanted to join Leeds. Look at Murphy, he showed a great commitment to the club.
"All our new signings showed that they really wanted to play for Leeds. We are building a team of players with the same attitude and the mentality needed to make Leeds successful again. Forestieri did not show that and we have moved on. We ended the deal on Tuesday and we are now looking at different players."
The latest speculation from The Sun suggests that Wednesday have now moved to seal a permanent deal of their own for Forestieri as Carlos Carvalhal looks to expand his squad further following the capture of experienced centre-back Michael Turner on loan from Norwich. Leeds, meanwhile, appear eager to complete a switch that would see NEC Nijmegen winger Anthony Limbombe become Rosler's eighth signing of the summer so far.