Orta explains how close Leeds United came to signing £60m duo in the summer transfer window

Joe Williams
Leeds director of football Victor Orta watches his team from the stands

Leeds United director of football Victor Orta insists the club’s “limitations” cost them signing two of their top targets in the summer.

Orta and other members of the Leeds board have come under pressure this season with the Yorkshire side in big relegation trouble at the start of the campaign.

Two wins from their final three Premier League matches before the World Cup break eased the criticism of manager Jesse Marsch, with Orta filmed sarcastically clapping the fans chanting ‘sack the board’ after they came from behind to beat Bournemouth 4-3.

He later apologised over the incident, Orta said in November: “I would like to say sorry for my reaction after the game yesterday. I don’t want to make excuses, but in the end I am human.

“The past few months have been very difficult for everyone at the club.

“I have been subjected to a lot of abuse in person, in writing and via phone calls, after my number was deliberately given out last month.”

He added: “I love and respect Leeds United fans. The atmosphere at Elland Road and across the country at every game is incomparable and has helped us to get over the line on many occasions, I thank the fan base for that. I will be sure to try to keep my emotions in check in future.”

Orta was mooted as the potential new technical director at Chelsea before they appointed Christopher Vivell earlier this week.

On whether he was close to joining Chelsea from Leeds, Orta told Spanish publication AS (via Sport Witness): “No, everything I found out, I found out from the press. I was and am very happy at Leeds and that’s why they wouldn’t even consider my name, because it came to them that I was not going to leave the club in any way.”

Asked about the World Cup in Qatar, Orta added: “It has been a World Cup where it has been shown that football is getting closer based on the rival’s preparation, on physical preparation… we could discuss quality. It has been the best modern final, by far, it has once again hooked a generation with which everyone had doubts.”

Orta was then asked which players had impressed him the most at the World Cup with the Leeds chief picking out former target Gakpo.

He continued: “We must talk about Ounahi, who has been one of the revelation players. At times I think there have also been very good ways to confirm Cody Gakpo. Enzo Fernandez has already climbed a step. Julian Alvarez has put up a pike to say: can I be a substitute for a top 10 team, or can I be a starter? I think most think the latter.”

When asked how close Leeds got to signing Gakpo and Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Orta replied: “We have a lot of information from many players. In the end some, due to price and our limitations, escape us. That is why we have to act as quickly as possible.”

Recent reports indicate Gakpo’s asking price will be £50m in January after his stock increased, while Kvaratskhelia moved to Napoli in the summer from Dinamo Batumi for around £10m.

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