By George Overhill

22nd Aug, 2022 | 8:40pm

Leeds United target Ismaila Sarr part of shock Watford u-turn after £25million collapse

Leeds United target Ismaila Sarr is now set to stay at Watford after the Hornets made a major u-turn on his future, according to The Mirror.

The Senegalese international forward appeared to be on the brink of a £25million move to Aston Villa before the move fell apart, and now his club are set to reject all future bids and offer him a new contract instead.

It had been reported by Foot Mercato’s Santi Aouna on 11 August that Whites owner Andrea Radrizzani was in negotiations with Gino Pozza over the attacker, and his teammate Joao Pedro, but it looks like neither will be successful, with Newcastle now set to sign the Portuguese [Fabrizio Romano].

On Sarr, the Mirror report says: “Although the Hornets reluctantly accepted Villa’s £25million bid with up to £5m in add-on clauses at the weekend, in a shock development Mirror Football understands the move is now OFF.

“Sarr, 24, has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs – including Manchester United, Leeds, Crystal Palace and Everton – over the summer. And after Nigerian striker Emmanuel Dennis joined Nottingham Forest for £20m last week, it was widely assumed Sarr would follow him out of the door as Watford seek to absorb the financial impact of relegation.”

That apparently won’t be happening now as a “high-level source” told the paper that he is “definitely” staying and they will “not entertain any bids” ahead of potential contact talks in the coming months.

Move on

Although the club’s interest has been disputed by Phil Hay, and firmly reiterated by Aouna, if a move is now not happening it doesn’t matter how far down the line they did or didn’t get.

Either way Leeds need to move on quickly, and if they are serious about adding another body in attack the have to make moves elsewhere as soon as possible.

The scintillating win over Chelsea on Sunday (21 August) might tempt United to see signing another as less of a priority, especially with Rodrigo suddenly in the kind of form that made him the club’s record buy.

But it would still be a risk to try to get through at least half of the season potentially having to force Dan James up front repeatedly, as has already started happening.

The season has got off to a pretty blistering start after the showpiece win at Elland Road at the weekend, and the missed opportunity from the draw at Southampton is all that has prevented Jesse Marsch from having his side joint-top.

If things can carry on like this without the Liam Cooper and Bamford in the side then there is no telling how far they can go, but if form was to slip it would be reassuring for the squad to have another goalscorer available.

That apparently won’t be Sarr, and that may be a blessing considering his price and his record in the Premier League, but they are running out of time now to get a deal over the line before the window shuts.

In other Leeds United news, after Jack Harrison bids were batted away a big-spending Premier League side is lining up a shock last-minute swoop for another Elland Road attacker.