Sharp-shooter expected to sign for Leeds United
Leeds United, 16/1 to secure promotion this season, are reportedly in talks with Southampton to snap up striker Billy Sharp. It is believed the forward, who has one year remaining on his contract with the Saints, has agreed to take a pay cut to join the Whites.
Sheffield-born Sharp signed for the south coast club in 2012 for a fee of £1.2m, but has spent the majority of the last two terms on loan stints at Nottingham Forest, Reading and Doncaster Rovers.
Leeds would be acquiring a player with significant Championship experience, as well as two Premier League appearances for the Saints, under his belt.
The striker was fairly prolific during his limited outings for Southampton, netting nine times in 15 games, and could provide the potent edge the Whites having been lacking in pre-season.
Sharp, 28, managed a total of six goals in 22 appearances last campaign, but it appears there is no future for him at St Mary’s under new boss Ronald Koeman, with the south coast side undergoing significant changes in personnel.
United, meanwhile, have been desperately trying to lure a top target man to West Yorkshire, after Championship rivals Fulham poached hitman Ross McCormack. The Whites received £11m for their former skipper and top scorer, who is reported to have submitted a transfer request.
The Scotland international was widely tipped for a move to the Premier League but eventually opted to join Felix Magath at Craven Cottage.
McCormack, voted Leeds Player of the Year, netted 28 times in the Championship last term, beating his previous best of 21 goals for Cardiff in 2008/09.
Despite being £11m richer, the Whites have been left with a huge gap to plug up front, even after acquiring the services of attacking duo Nicky Ajose and Souleymane Doukara, and it will be hoped Sharp can help ease the burden.
Leeds have been increasingly active in the transfer market following the takeover by Massimo Cellino. The Yorkshire club have added a host of Italy-based players to their ranks, including Doukara, AC Milan midfielder Zan Benedicic, Giuseppe Bellusci, Gaetano Berardi, Tommaso Bianchi and Marco Silvestri.
Centre back Bellusci is Leeds’ most recent signing, arriving on a season-long loan from Catania, with an option to join permanently next summer. David Hockaday is also expected to further reinforce his backline, with a move for Chesterfield centre back Liam Cooper believed to be imminent.
Previous transfer talks for the Hull City academy product were rumoured to have broken down, but United, who are 7/1 for a top six finish, have apparently reignited their interest following the collapse of a potential deal for Juventus and Denmark defender Frederik Sorensen.