Rivals came in for Gradel

Three Championship rivals wanted Ivorian winger

Last Updated: 03/09/11 4:02pm

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Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has revealed he could have sold winger Max Gradel to three different Championship clubs on deadline day.

The Ivory Coast international was in demand ahead of the closure of the transfer window and Leeds opted to cash in rather than lose him for free next summer.

St Etienne beat Ligue 1 rivals Sochaux to his signature, however, three English clubs, rumoured to be West Ham, Leicester and Nottingham Forest, were all eager to strike a deal.

Leeds were against selling one of their prized assets, but Grayson opted to allow him to play in France following a heart-felt appeal by the 23-year-old.

Stance

"I wish him well in the future but it is a loss and a blow that he has gone," Grayson told the club's official website.

"We did make a stance not to sell him but when he comes pouring his heart out to me that he needs to go back to France for family reasons as well, you have to accept that sometimes.

"I could have sold him to three Championship clubs on Wednesday and the day before but we made a stance that we weren't going to sell him to any of our rivals.

"One or two Premier League clubs inquired but didn't follow it through. In the end him going abroad back to his family and the country where he was brought up is an ideal situation."

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