Leeds fans haven’t had many reasons to thank new owner Massimo Cellino since the Italian took over their club, but if he manages to deliver Colombia winger Victor Ibarbo to Elland Road there’ll be a pint or two of real ale raised.
Ibarbo caused mass panic among Greece’s much-vaunted defence in Colombia’s classy 3-0 World Cup Group C opening-fixture win, with Jose Pekerman’s side now 21/50 to top their mini-league ahead of 2/1 shots Ivory Coast, who came from behind to beat Japan 2-1.
The 24-year-old Cagliari flyer was a shock inclusion by Coffee Growers’ coach Pekerman, as Ibarbo did not feature for his country in World Cup qualifying, but his electric performance against the EURO 2004 winners should ensure he’s in from the off again when they take on the West Africans next time out.
A number of big clubs on the continent have been linked with the 6ft 2in former Atletico Nacional man, whose struck ten times and laid-on three assists in 64 Serie A games over the last two seasons with the Rossoblu.
Barcelona, Newcastle, Stuttgart, Juventus and Napoli are all thought to be preparing bids in excess of £10m for the player, but Ibarbo’s links with former Cagliari president Cellino could yet see him strutting his stuff at Elland Road next term.
Cellino recently sold his 100% stake in the Sardinian club, but is thought to be mulling over funding a massive statement of intent in west Yorkshire by bidding for the player he brought to Italy for less than £1m from Uruguay three years ago.
Newcastle are also in the market for attacking reinforcements, having lost Yohan Cabaye, let go of Shola Ameobi and with loanees Luuk de Jong and Loic Remy returning to their parent clubs since the start of 2014.
The sale of Cabaye to PSG means Alan Pardew should have sizable rebuilding funds at his disposal during the summer.
However, the Magpies boss will be hoping Ibarbo takes his foot of the pedal somewhat in Brazil if he is to stand a chance of landing him.