By Anthony Onifade

11th May, 2023 | 10:10am

Phil Hay: Victor Orta spent final hours at Leeds United trying to sign Ilias Akhomach

Former Leeds United sporting director Victor Orta spent his final hours at Elland Road trying to sign Barcelona wonderkid Ilias Akhomach before stepping down from his job, according to Phil Hay.

The Whites have long been linked with a move for the 18-year-old winger, with reports in Spain suggesting that a deal was to set be completed before the end of March [Mundo Deportivo].

And reports from LUFCFANZONE (16 March) and Spanish outlet Sport (17 March) suggested he was close to becoming an Elland Road player, with Orta pushing hard to sign him.

But with circumstances changing at Elland Road, with sporting director Victor Orta – who was pushing for the transfer –immediately departing the Whites on 2 May, the Akhomach deal is now dead in the water, according to Spanish outlet El Nacional.

And Hay writing in his The Athletic article [11 May] reveals the Spanish chief was attempting to secure a potential transfer before he was shown the exit door by Andrea Radrizzani.

He said: “But it is true that through six years with Andrea Radrizzani as chairman and, until last week, Victor Orta as director of football, Leeds have been as active in the field of youth recruitment as they have in the main transfer market.

“Even with Orta in his final hours at Elland Road, there was still talk of him doing a deal for Ilias Akhomach, an 18-year-old winger at Barcelona, another one for the future whatever the future actually is. In many respects, that area of scouting was where the Orta often seemed most comfortable.”

No surprise

Given Orta’s love of scouting young and attractive attacking targets for Leeds United, Hay’s comments certainly come as no surprise.

The former Elland Road director certainly seemed a huge fan of Akhomach and given the Barcelona winger’s stunning talents and potential, Orta was desperate to add him to the Leeds United ranks and stop him going elsewhere.

But such were the circumstances on the pitch and off it, that Radrizzani had no option but to relieve Orta of his duties which has now seen any move for the Spanish wonderkid dead in the water.

The club have so much to focus on right now with their Premier League safety high on the agenda after Sam Allardyce’s appointment as Javi Gracia’s replacement.

And given it was Orta the one driving the deal, now that he’s gone, the Whites simply have no use continuing in their efforts to sign the Barcelona youngster.

Akhomach is a bright young footballer, with the potential to become a future world-beater but Leeds United are certainly not short of players with those ceilings in Wilfried Gnonto, Georginio Rutter and Crysencio Summerville also possessing similar potential ceiling as the Spaniard.

They’d be better served attempting to get the best out of the talents they have in their remaining Premier League games before they can turn their attention to other targets.

In other Leeds United news, one talented Premier League manager has emerged as a potential candidate to take over as Whites boss for next season.