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Red Star join Leeds and Palermo on Lafferty's trail

By Steven Beacom

Published 15/12/2015

Wanted man: Kyle Lafferty is attracting a range of interest
Wanted man: Kyle Lafferty is attracting a range of interest

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty has emerged as a shock transfer target for Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade.

It is understood that the Norwich City ace's name is on a list of potential signings for Red Star, who are keen to bring forward talent to the club next year.

Despite his goalscoring heroics for Northern Ireland in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Lafferty (pictured) has rarely featured for Norwich under manager Alex Neil and has been told he can leave Carrow Road in January.

Championship side Leeds United are interested in taking the Fermanagh man on loan while Lafferty's former club Palermo are keen on bringing him back to Italy.

Lafferty, who wants to be playing on a regular basis ahead of the European Championships in France, would prefer to stay in England but has shown in the past that he is not afraid to travel abroad in order for game time.

As well as playing for Palermo, he has been with Sion in Switzerland and Turkish outfit Caykur Rizespor.

Red Star are walking away with the Serbia SuperLiga title and are scoring goals galore, but while dominating domestically, they are desperate to make the group stages of the Champions League and that's where Lafferty comes in.

Belgrade have come up with a short-list of strikers who could put them in with the big boys of European football next season and Lafferty is on it.

He may not be able to get a game for Norwich, but his seven goals for Northern Ireland in Euro qualifying has earned him respect around Europe.

Red Star would consider a loan move or a permanent transfer, though they would be unable to pay a hefty fee as they are millions of pounds in debt.

The club's financial problems have led to the urgency in the boardroom to make it into the lucrative group stages of the Champions League.

Lafferty will have a big decision to make in January in terms of his next career move.

A switch to Leeds for the remainder of the season is one Lafferty would seriously consider. The fact that his international buddy Stuart Dallas is already at Elland Road would appeal.

At Palermo in 2013 and 2014, Lafferty was a hit with the fans and given they are experiencing a lean period in front of goal at present, he could expect a warm welcome back.

Another option may be to go to America, where MLS clubs are said to be considering making a move for the man from Kesh.

Whatever his choice, Lafferty will make it with the Euro finals in mind. He is excited at the prospect of facing World Champions Germany, Poland and Ukraine and knows if he signs a loan deal in January, he could be a free agent after the tournament, placing him in a strong bargaining position, especially if he shines in France.

Belfast Telegraph

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