Jesse Marsch can’t guarantee Chelsea won’t poach key man; tips new Leeds Utd attacker to set Prem alight

Jesse Marsch, Leeds United press conference - still courtesy of LUTV

Jesse Marsch isn’t surprised Chelsea are sniffing around a key Leeds United figure and can’t guarantee he’ll stay, while a forward has been tipped to explode in the first-team.

Leeds United lost arguably their two most prized assets last summer. Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha were snapped up by Man City and Barcelona respectively, though the Whites could be vulnerable to another major raid once again.

With Chelsea’s search for a new sporting director still ongoing, Leeds’ Victor Orta has been named as a viable candidate by more than one outlet.

That originally came from the Telegraph, with Chelsea reportedly impressed by the work he’s undertaken at Leeds.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Tim Steidten appears to be the frontrunner to succeed Marina Granovskaia at present. However, Orta is in the mix and Leeds boss Jesse Marsch isn’t surprised one bit.

“Not surprised he has been linked to Chelsea,” Marsch said in a Friday press conference (via Leeds Live).

“He is very happy here, we work well together [and had a] good window.

“Every window sets us up for success. Hopefully he stays because of his hard work and expertise.

“It’s the same for everybody in this business. Things come up, opportunities, contractual obligations and people have to think what’s best in their lives, what their contract says and find ways to move forward.

“Togetherness and commitment here is the highest I have seen. I don’t want to leave, if I got an offer to go anywhere I would stay in this spot. I’m more happy than I have ever been in my career.

Orta exit discussed, but dismissed?

“Angus, Victor and I had a dinner planned,” he continued. “We went to Iberica (a Spanish restaurant), perfect place for him to tell us if he was leaving, but we talked openly about it.

“Funny conversation – I made him promise to stay with me if I came here. An opportunity like Chelsea is understandable, but I’m hopeful he will stay.”

Marsch referenced his current stint in management being the happiest he’s ever been.

On why specifically he’s so happy in west Yorkshire, Marsch added: “The league speaks for itself.

“[My] motivation for coming here had nothing to do with the Premier League, more with the connections and energies with how we think and work.

“I have to work hard every day to iron out the plan, but I want us to be a real unit and work for each other.”

Bamford injuries prompt new approach

Leeds host Aston Villa in the 4:30pm kick-off on Sunday. Marsch will be resigned to the stands after being handed a one-match touchline ban for his red card in the Brentford clash.

Both sides will view the fixture as winnable and three points would likely propel either side into the top half.

The Whites could be boosted by the return of Patrick Bamford to the starting eleven, though Marsch suggested he’s inclined to manage his striker carefully given his recent injury woes.

“With him, it’s always been trying to manage him and pushing him fitness-wise to be sharp and at a high level and also not push him too hard and risk other injuries.

“We’ve managed it well, but it’s a balancing act with him. [He’s] important for us. Every moment he’s been on the pitch until now he’s scored goals, he gets chances, he’s dangerous.

“In the Premier League, goals are at a premium so we will need him to be at his best.”

Leeds have 10 goals to their name in their first six matches. The loss of Raphinha hasn’t been as big of a blow as some expected, and there’s a new face in the ranks apparently poised to make a big impression.

Wilfried Gnonto time to shine?

Leeds signed 18-year-old Italy international, Wilfried Gnonto, from FC Zurich late in the summer window.

At such a young age, Gnonto wasn’t expected to play a major role this season.

He began the campaign in the Under-23s, though his rapid rise continues to see him earn caps for the senior Italian national side.

Gnonto appeared off the bench in the 1-0 victory over England before being given the nod to start against Hungary. While his display showed signs of inexperience, Marsch suggested the time is now to unleash Gnonto in the Premier League.

“[Gnonto has] pleasantly surprised all of us in every way,” said Marsch. “Video of he and I meeting in the office, which was funny because it was normal to me.

“You can see his humbleness and his maturity and on the pitch he’s been fantastic. Very good with the [first-team].

“He’s in the squad this weekend and we think he can play a big role now. I revise my statement on him [not] being Premier League ready.”