Jesse Marsch was not afraid to acknowledge links between Raphinha and Barcelona, nor Brenden Aaronson and Leeds United, at his latest press conference.
Having taken the reins from Marcelo Bielsa, Marsch will be hoping to keep Leeds in the Premier League. Then, he will start to plan for his first full season in charge. After a couple of quiet transfer windows, they could be busier this time around.
There will be movement – or at least links – in either direction. In terms of outgoings, Leeds could be bracing themselves for bids for star winger Raphinha.
The Brazil international is reportedly a transfer target for Barcelona. However, reports have cast doubt on whether the La Liga side will be able to sign him. Victor Orta has confirmed there is no release clause in his contract in the event of Premier League survival.
Relegation could complicate matters, but Leeds are seven points clear of the danger zone as things stand. Still, the noise surrounding Raphinha will persist as the transfer window approaches.
Marsch is aware of it and has had to fend off related questions at his press conference on Thursday. First, he revealed Raphinha was impactful in a 45-minute friendly match between the first team and under-23s on Friday.
But in the bigger picture, Marsch knows Leeds may face a battle to keep him. The American coach hopes they can do so for as long as possible, though.
He said: “Yeah, speaking about this test match, little game we had, Raphinha was incredible in the 45 minutes.
“He, for me, is a massive talent, a massive talent. And my challenge is, despite all of the things that are being said on the outside, is to have the type of relationship with him where he and I can focus on his development and him doing everything he can to help the team and to continue to get better while he’s here.
Leeds United value Raphinha at £70m putting many teams off
Leeds United value Raphinha at £70m which will put off Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG
“I haven’t said a word with him about Deco, Barcelona, any of these things right? And everybody knows it’s out there and for me as it should be, because he’s a fantastic, fantastic player.
“I want him to become the player that I know that he can. I think everyone sees here, how talented he is, how committed he is, how hard he can run, how confident of a young man he is.
“You know everyone here wants to enjoy the football that we can play with him. And of course we want to convince him to stay as long as we can. Because he’s so good. He’s a fantastic player and a really good person.”
Marsch prepares for transfer meeting with Orta
Elsewhere, Marsch will also be considering potential signings. It was put to him that Leeds United may need more competition for Patrick Bamford up front after struggling in his absence.
The former RB Salzburg boss agreed, after providing some insight into the plans he will shortly be making with Orta.
He even namechecked Brenden Aaronson – who TEAMtalk can confirm remains on Leeds’ transfer radar – when explaining the approach he will take.
Marsch said: “Victor and I, we were having a scouting meeting next week, because most of his scouts were out watching games during the international break.
“We’ve had some discussions already. I don’t know exactly how it worked when Marcelo [Bielsa] was here, but I understand that my role is to be the manager. And then we have a sports director and a group of scouts that look at how to build within our team.
“So I like to give profiles of the types of players that I like. And then I like the sport director and the scout to work diligently to do their jobs and then present players. And then we work through it together and we make decisions together.
“Because I find that it’s really important that when new players come that everyone is fully aligned so that it’s not like, ‘well this player belongs to this sport director or this scout or this manager’.
Brenden Aaronson gets a mention
“I can tell you the whole talk with Brenden Aaronson, this all happened before I even came here. Now I know Brenden; I coached him and he’s an American, and I think he’s a great player. But even when he came to Salzburg, Salzburg found him or knew about him before and came to me before he even came, and then we worked together to think this was the right player for us.
“So that’s how I like to work and that’s what I think is really important with scouting.
“In terms of the position I think we have some talented players there and I think we have some flexibility with all the players that we have up front. But yeah, we might need to look to find another attacker or two and one specifically that is a number nine. That is a possibility.
“But we will discuss that more next week. And maybe I can answer that question better next week as well.”