Orta identifies natural Bielsa successor as next Leeds boss, while source names ‘only option’ being considered right now

Leeds United director of football Victor Orta

Leeds United are ready to ‘try again’ for the coach they reportedly see as the long-term heir to Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road, according to a trusted source.

The Whites opted to sack Jesse Marsch last week in the wake of a worrying run of form. Indeed, the club remain winless since a narrow 4-3 comeback win over Bournemouth at Elland Road on November 5. And while Leeds were not getting the results their performances perhaps deserved, the axe fell on Marsch after just over 11 months in charge.

However, appointing his successor has been far harder than initially expected. While Leeds had Marsch lined up for months prior to Bielsa’s sacking, the club have this time around targeted candidates already in work. And prising them away from their current clubs has proved a hurdle too great at this stage.

Indeed, both Andoni Iraola and Arne Slot both opted to stay where they were in the wake of Leeds interest. For their part it is easy to see why. Iraola has Rayo Vallecano sixth in the LaLiga table and in with a shout of securing European football.

Having taken them from Segunda Liga, it is easy to see why he is highly rated. And with a deal that expires in the summer, Leeds had hoped to prise Iraola away.

However, the Spaniard has opted to stay loyal to Vallecano with a move to Leeds – firmly in the relegation mix – seen as too much of a risk.

It’s a similar story too for Slot. His Feyenoord side sit top of the Eredivisie and he explained in very firm terms why he intends to stay.

Leeds make Marcelo Gallardo their top managerial target

Another name that has been bubbling away under the surface is Marcelo Gallardo.

The Argentine is a free agent having left River Plate after eight successful years earlier this season. However, despite Leeds’ interests, he does not want to take over a side mid-season, instead prefering to wait for the summer. Shades of Bielsa there, for sure!

Now, according to Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph, Leeds are willing to wait for Gallardo.

And it seems they see the 47-year-old as the heir to Bielsa at Leeds United with a summer swoop in their sights.

Burt writes: ‘They, especially the under-pressure Orta, are admirers of Marcelo Gallardo and would regard the Argentine as a true long-term successor to Bielsa having left River Plate last October after eight successful years.

‘But rather like Bielsa and most top coaches, Gallardo is in no rush to take a job mid-season or even, now, later in the campaign. It appears he would rather wait.

‘Maybe Leeds can try for him again in the summer. The fear is that, by then, they may be a Championship rather than a Premier League club, with all the ramifications that relegation brings.’

For the time being at least, Leeds will keep caretaker boss Michael Skubala in charge for Saturday’s crucial trip to Everton.

Leeds bosses’ are happy by performances under their Under-21s coach so far. And many consider them unlucky to have only taken one point from the six available in their two matches against Manchester United recently.

Leeds may try again for Nuno Espirito Santo

However, the stakes are far higher for Saturday’s trip to Everton. And with the Toffees a place below Leeds in the table, Leeds know a defeat would see them replace Everton in the drop zone.

To that end, Leeds have announced that Skubala will remain in charge this weekend, though have refused to commit to handing him the reins for the remainder of the season.

And any decision could hinge on how the match at Goodison Park goes.

In the meantime, Leeds do have two other options to consider as a manager. And the Whites could still yet make an approach for either Steven Gerrard or Nuno Espirito Santo if they feel they need a more experienced hand in charge.

Asssessing the situation, journalist Dean Jones has told Givemsport that only one of two are serious options for Leeds.

“The feeling among Leeds fans is not good towards Gerrard,” Jones states.

“But the fact Gary McAllister would join him softens the blow a little if he was to come in.

“There are very few options right now that seem exciting, though.

“From people I speak to that love the club, Nuno is the only manager mentioned that they actually want right now.”

Per reports, Leeds would need to pay around £5.6m to prise Nuno from his role with Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad.

The question, though, is whether the club appoints a man who would only be around their fourth or five choice. Or gamble and wait until the summer to land one of their first-choice picks. With Premier League safety at risk, the next call is a huge one for Leeds.

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