Relegation of a side often throws a lot of things off kilter so-to-speak. Best laid plans of mice and men often go out of the window. Disorganisation often reigns as clubs begin to take stock of the situation.
That is what is happening at Empoli, who were relegated at the weekend from Serie A. Results transpired against them and a long-threatened relegation became a reality, a reality that saw Empoli dumped into Serie B for the 2017/18 season.
Along with the team, down went on loan Leeds United central defender Giuseppe Bellusci. It was blatantly clear that Bellusci was not a part of the plans at Elland Road this season, the Italian not fitting in to Garry Monk’s ethos for what Leeds United were to be this season – what they’d ‘represent’. With this in mind, a loan deal was struck with Serie A side Empoli, where Bellusci has been on loan this season.
Whilst over in Empoli, Bellusci has actually not been playing too badly. Bellusci made 33 appearances for Empoli this season, becoming their highest rated defender, according to website WhoScored.com, with an average rating of 6.81 over the course of the season. He has scored once during his stay, whilst also showing that recklessness that Leeds fans became used to by picking up a league-leading 15 yellow cards.
When Empoli’s relegation was confirmed, some Leeds United fans began to fear the worst – that Bellusci may actually rock back up at Elland Road come the start of pre-season training. In a way that is a very real possibility, relegated teams having to operate on a much tighter budget.
Put plainly, Giuseppe Bellusci is not wanted back at Elland Road by many fans. Not that he wants to return, not according to website Calciomercato24 back in early March. According to Calciomercato24, who interviewed his agent Michelangelo Minieri, Bellusci doesn’t want a return to English football and prefers a stay in Serie A with Empoli. Minieri described Bellusci’s time at Elland Road as “a very important and beautiful experience that has allowed him to grow,” before going on to say that it has been equally important that he “jumped at this opportunity” to re-experience Italian football.
But now Italian website Panorama has said something that will give lots of Leeds fans sweeter dreams – there is a chance that Bellusci may yet stay in Italy, at Empoli, and in Serie B. Panorama say that Bellusci “borrowed from Leeds, could be redeemed for 2 million euros (around £1.7 million).
However Empoli, knowing how the fans think of Bellusci after his previous capers at Elland Road, might have a couple of options up their sleeves. They could attempt to cry the poor tale and drive down the purchase/redemption price for bringing him next season. Or they might ask for another loan deal and hope to gain promotion back to Serie A, where it will only be wages as the stumbling block – Bellusci’s contract having already ended.