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Cellino: McCormack disrespected me at Leeds United
Updated 8:01am Wednesday 9th July 2014 in Sport
LEEDS owner Massimo Cellino has claimed he was forced into the sale of leading goal-scorer Ross McCormack to Fulham because the Scotland international had "disrespected" him.
Fulham completed the deal for an undisclosed fee, understood to be £11million, for the Leeds captain late on Monday night and confirmed the deal yesterday morning, less than a week after Cellino had insisted the striker was not for sale.
McCormack, 27, signed a new four-year deal with Leeds last summer but, following a fall-out with Cellino, did not to travel last week to their summer training camp in Italy.
The striker has signed a four-year contract at Leeds' Championship rivals Fulham with the option of a further year.
Cellino said: "I like to be in control of situations but it felt like he wasn't my player. I was disrespected. He was aggressive with me.
"He didn't turn up for the tour and all the time he wanted to go from here. It wasn't in my mind to sell McCormack, it wasn't my plan, but I had no choice.
"He's a good player, and I'm not going to pretend that he isn't, but he didn't respect me and it wasn't possible to keep him."
The transfer fee is more than had been expected for a player unproven in the top flight but the deal may still anger some Leeds fans, who had been hoping McCormack would spearhead their club's promotion challenge next season.
McCormack, the Championship's leading scorer last season with 28 goals, was reported as saying he had been "hung out to dry" and that the club were "no longer the Leeds United I fell in love with".
His only official comment came on his Instagram account, where he wrote: "New start. Thanks for the good wishes. Devastated to leave Leeds under a cloud after four thoroughly enjoyable years. Will always be a fan."
Cellino has made wholesale changes at Elland Road since completing his takeover on April 7.
Former manager Brian McDermott has been replaced by a new head coach, former Forest Green Rovers boss David Hockaday, and Junior Lewis has also been added to the coaching staff.
Benito Carbone, the former Bantams and Sheffield Wednesday forward, was appointed as a consultant responsible for first-team and academy affairs in May.
Cellino temporarily closed down the club's Thorp Arch training ground as a cost-cutting measure – the Italian has since confirmed he wants to move away from the multi-million complex permanently – while a raft of redundancies among non-playing staff have been made.
A Leeds statement released on the club's official website read: "Striker Ross McCormack has completed his transfer to Fulham for an undisclosed fee.
"The Scotland international was the Championship's top goal-scorer last season with 28 league goals and he has signed a four-year deal, with an option of a further year with the London side.
"It is with regret that this decision was reached but the player no longer wanted play for Leeds United.
"McCormack made a total of 158 appearances for the club and scored 58 goals for United. The club would like to wish Ross all the best for the future."
Fulham have paid a record fee for a Scottish player, while McCormack becomes the second-most expensive Scottish-born player in history.
Everton paid Wigan £13million for Glasgow-born Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy in September last year.
Cellino had said he would only sell McCormack to a Premier League club when he unveiled Hockaday as head coach on June 19.
The Italian claimed he had blocked the Scot's proposed move to Fulham's capital rivals West Ham in January and rejected an approach from Newcastle in May.
Meanwhile, Cellino is understood to have confirmed the signings of Chievo goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and Sassuolo midfielder Tommaso Bianchi.
Former Italy under-21 goalkeeper Silvestri, 23, joins from Chievo on a reported four-year deal, while midfielder Bianchi has signed a three-year contract with the option of a further year.