Leeds Join Race for £15m-Rated River Plate Defender Gonzalo Montiel

Gonzalo Montiel
Montiel is being tracked heavily across Europe | Jam Media/Getty Images

Leeds have joined a host of clubs across Europe in chasing a deal for River Plate defender Gonzalo Montiel.

Montiel played a key role in River’s run to the final of the Copa Libertadores last season, has become a full Argentina international and has been drawing comparisons to countryman Pablo Zabaleta.

View this post on Instagram

⚪️?⚪️

A post shared by gonzalo montiel (@gonzalo_montiel29) on

Returning to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years, Leeds are fully aware of the need to strengthen during the window in order to ensure their return extends beyond the 2020/21 campaign.

While there are plenty of eyes on the right-back, Marcelo Bielsa has earmarked Montiel as a key target, asking the club's hierarchy to pursue a move this summer - one that will cost in the region of £15m.

Despite securing promotion as champions, Bielsa understands that Leeds will need to stick to a budget ahead of a hectic period of transfer activity, but nevertheless, Montiel is seen as an ideal addition after being tracked heavily by the 65-year-old tactician.

With suitors across the continent, there is an acceptance that Leeds will not be able to match the salaries other clubs can offer, however, it is believed Montiel would favour a move to Elland Road to work under the legendary Argentine boss.

Montiel was key in River's run to the Copa Libertadores final last season
Montiel was key in River's run to the Copa Libertadores final last season | Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

The fee is a modest one considering the sheer volume of interested parties, with clubs in Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia and England all monitoring the situation. Among those, West Ham and Schalke were the first to show an interest, since being joined by Milan, Spartak Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Sevilla.

Right-back is an area that the west Yorkshire side are looking strengthen over the coming months, with Luke Ayling the only recognised senior player in the squad for that role following the injury to Gaetano Berardi, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his knee in the penultimate round of Championship fixtures.

Elsewhere, 90min revealed that the Lillywhites are considering making an offer for Girona striker Cristhian Stuani, who previously worked under current Leeds director Victor Orta from their time at Middlesbrough.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!