Leeds United were linked with Moroccan World Cup star Azzedine Ounahi continuously throughout the January transfer window, but ultimately the midfielder left Ligue 1 side Angers to join Marseille.
The Ounahi saga ended with an unexpected twist, as the 22 year old signed for Marseille for a fee in the region of £8 – 10 million, which is about half of the price Leeds were reportedly told the player would cost.
Leeds fans were initially puzzled by Marseille’s successful low fee for the midfielder, but most have realised that the club correctly backed off after Angers’ asking price from the Whites was higher than Ounahi’s valuation.
Leeds instead focused their attention on USA star midfielder Weston McKennie, who completed his move to Elland Road last night and will link up with international team mates Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson.
In a piece with The Athletic, Leeds correspondent Phil Hay details that talks between Leeds and Angers over a potential move for Ounahi derailed when Leeds Director of Football Victor Orta grew unimpressed with how much the French club’s asking price skyrocketed after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Hay reports that when Leeds approached the Ligue 1 side about Ounahi last summer, they were quoted a fee in the region of £8 – 12 million to sign the midfielder. However, when it came to the January window, Angers told Leeds that he would now cost a fee closer to £20 million.
Orta stepped in and told the club ‘not to go overboard’ for the player, and in turn any potential move fell through.
It certainly looks as though dropping the chase for Ounahi was the smart play, as it allowed Leeds to focus their time and efforts on getting the Weston McKennie deal across the line before the end of the transfer window, mitigating the possibility of any last minute hiccups like we saw with Dan James and Swansea back in 2019. And with Angers eventually letting Ounahi go for a much lower fee, the club has come out of this one looking relatively well.