Reports emerged today that the Chelsea midfielder, who has spent the last three seasons out on loan, is available for another loan deal, with Serie A giants AC Milan, where Pašalić spent last year on loan, and Lazio interested, along with La Liga clubs Valencia and Real Betis, and Leeds United all rumored to be in the running for the player’s signature. The Croatian midfielder was signed by Chelsea from Croatian side Hadjuk Split in 2014 as a teenager, but has yet to appear for the West London club, instead being loaned out in various deals all over Europe.
What most of the reports are missing, of course, is the links that Victor Orta have to Pašalić and why Leeds, of all teams, are in the running for his signature. Orta landed Pašalić on loan while he was Director of Football at Elche CF three seasons ago, the first place that Pašalić went on loan after signing for Chelsea. After a season in Spain, Pašalić went first to Monaco two seasons ago, and spent last year on loan at AC Milan, where he seemed to come into his own, scoring five goals from midfield and the winning penalty for AC Milan in the 2016 Supercoppa Italian played in Qatar, where Milan beat Juventus 4-3 on penalties after drawing 1-1 after extra time.
This would be an ambitious signing by Orta, with Leeds in the running with some of the big boys of Europe. However, given the previous relationship that he has with the player, having signed him before, and the exposure to English football that Chelsea might be interested in, it is a more credible link than most people would believe at first glance. Additionally, if Leeds are able to gain promotion, the could easily be able to afford his signature, given the amount of money that is flowing into the Premier League, something that Valencia or the Italian clubs may not be able to afford given the gulf in revenue between the Premier League and the rest of the world.
So as improbable as this link seems, Leeds have a chance. While AC Milan is expected to retain his services, it is showing at least ambition by Orta and the rest of the backroom staff at Leeds to attempt a loan deal of a rising star and Serie A veteran.