By Anthony Onifade

30th Jan, 2023 | 10:10pm

Victor Orta blocked Leeds United from signing Azzedine Ounahi after £20m development in France

Victor Orta blocked Leeds United from signing new Marseille midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, telling them not to go “overboard” with Angers demanding a £20m fee, according to Phil Hay.

CBS journalist Ben Jacobs [Caughtoffside, 25 January] claimed the Whites were still in the hunt for the 22-year-old midfielder, despite turning their attention to Juventus’ Weston McKennie.

And Hay initially doubted that a Leeds United move for the World Cup breakout star could come to fruition, suggesting [Phil Hay Show, 27 January] a move for the player had not progressed at all.

And the Athletic journalist has now revealed [30 January] an intriguing development on the Ounahi saga stating that Orta blocked the move as he thought Angers were going “overboard” with their £20m price tag.

The midfielder eventually moved to Marseille for as little as £10m. He wrote: “When they asked French club Angers about Ounahi last summer, they were told he would cost between £8m and £12m ($9.9m and $14.8m).

“When they went back to Angers in this window, following his impressive World Cup with surprise semi-finalists Morocco, the club currently bottom of Ligue 1 were talking about a fee closer to £20m ($24.7m), if not more. Napoli, the Serie A leaders, were also quoted a high price for the 22-year-old which they declined to match. Orta told Leeds not to go overboard on him and, if it came to it, to leave Ounahi alone.”

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No worries

Ounahi could well have represented a sensational buy for the Whites considering the remarkable gifts he exerted at the World Cup in Qatar. The midfielder could have been an instant hit amongst the Leeds faithful.

But the move wasn’t to be. The club will certainly be a bit disappointed that Angers eventually sold him for £10m when they demanded £20m which is a huge difference in what Leeds could have paid to acquire him.

However, the Whites board will have no worries about missing out on Ounahi as they’ve arguably secured the next best thing in McKennie, who will come and instantly add European experience and World pedigree to a Leeds side that desperately needs it.

Something Ounahi may have struggled to offer immediately. The Whites have enjoyed an eventful window and signing McKennie will allow the fans to forget what may have been had they signed the Moroccan superstar midfielder.

In other Leeds United news, visit our live transfer blog for around-the-clock updates straight from Elland Road.