Sunday 15 December 2019

Massimo Cellino: Ross McCormack disrespected me and I had no choice but to sell him

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino
Ross McCormack

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has claimed he was forced into the sale of leading goalscorer Ross McCormack to Fulham because the Scotland international had "disrespected" him.

Fulham completed the deal for an undisclosed fee, understood to be £11million, for the Leeds captain late on Monday night and confirmed the deal on Tuesday morning, less than a week after Cellino had insisted the striker was not for sale.

McCormack, 27, signed a new four-year deal with Leeds last summer, but following a fall-out with Cellino did not to travel with Leeds last week to their summer training camp in Italy. He has signed a four-year contract at Leeds' Sky Bet Championship rivals Fulham with the option of a further year.

"I like to be in control of situations but it felt like he wasn't my player," Cellino told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"I was disrespected, he was aggressive with me.

"He didn't turn up for the tour and all the time he wanted to go from here. It wasn't in my mind to sell McCormack, it wasn't my plan, but I had no choice.

"He's a bloody good player and I'm not going to pretend that he isn't but he didn't respect me and it wasn't possible to keep him."

The transfer fee is more than had been expected for a player unproven in the top flight, but the deal may still anger some Leeds fans who had been hoping McCormack would spearhead their club's promotion challenge next season.

McCormack, the Championship's leading scorer last season with 28 goals, told BBC Radio Leeds that he had been "hung out to dry" and that the club was "no longer the Leeds United I fell in love with".

Cellino has made wholesale changes at the club since completing his takeover on April 7.

Former manager Brian McDermott has been replaced by a new head coach, former Forest Green Rovers boss David Hockaday, and Junior Lewis has also been added to the coaching staff.

Benito Carbone, the former Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday striker, was appointed as a consultant responsible for first-team and academy affairs in May.

Cellino temporarily closed down the club's Thorp Arch training ground as a cost-cutting measure - the Italian has since confirmed he wants to move away from the multi-million complex permanently - while a raft of redundancies among non-playing staff have been made.

A Leeds statement released on the club's official website read: "Striker Ross McCormack has completed his transfer to Fulham for an undisclosed fee.

"The Scotland international was the Championship's top goalscorer last season with 28 league goals and he has signed a four-year deal, with an option of a further year with the London side.

"It is with regret that this decision was reached but the player no longer wanted play for Leeds United.

"McCormack made a total of 158 appearances for the club and scored 58 goals for United.

"The club would like to wish Ross all the best for the future."

Fulham have paid a record fee for a Scotland international, while McCormack becomes the second most expensive Scottish-born player in history.

Everton paid Wigan £13million for Glasgow-born Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy in September last year.

Cellino had said he would only sell McCormack to a Barclays Premier League club when he unveiled Hockaday as head coach on June 19.

The Italian claimed he had blocked the Scot's proposed move to Fulham's London rivals West Ham in January and rejected an approach from Newcastle in May.

Meanwhile, Cellino is understood to have confirmed the signings of Chievo goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and Sassuolo midfielder Tommaso Bianchi.

Former Italy Under-21 goalkeeper Silvestri, 23, joins from Chievo on a reported four-year deal, while midfielder Bianchi has signed a three-year contract, with the option of a further year.

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