Leeds expert delivers worrying Bielsa future verdict; Orta springs into action

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa 2021

A Leeds United expert has suggested this could be the final season of Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road, and insisted Victor Orta has “targets in mind” to replace the Argentine.

The enigmatic Argentine, 66, has been a revelation at Leeds United. Bielsa took charge with the club languishing in the Championship. Under his stewardship, Leeds have become one of English football’s most must-see sides. However, along with style came a great deal of substance.

Bielsa’s all-action style helped Leeds return to the top flight for the first time since 2004 last season.

The Whites earned rave reviews for their fearless approach in their first season back, but results have taken a dip at the second time of asking. Indeed, Leeds currently sit in 15th position. They had been on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone prior to their last-gasp victory over Brighton on Tuesday.

Bielsa only signs one-year extensions with the club, meaning each summer he is theoretically on course to become a free agent.

He has always penned fresh terms in the end, but according to the Athletic’s Phil Hay, that scenario may have happened for the last time.

Writing in a Q&A for the Athletic, Hay revealed his “hunch” is that Bielsa will walk away when the season concludes.

The Leeds United specialist also insisted that club chief Orta and the board won’t be caught off guard and “always have targets in mind” to take the reins.

“This might be his last season”

“My hunch is that this might be his last season,” said Hay (via LeedsAllOver).

“It’s only a hunch and the reality is that no-one knows with him.

“The board and [Victor] Orta treat the head coach’s position like they do recruitment. They always have targets in mind in case they find themselves looking for a replacement.

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“It’s not disrespectful to Bielsa, it’s just the way football has to work. You cannot afford to get blindsided by your head coach deciding to move on.”

Should Bielsa walk away, a recent report highlighted a manager scooping the biggest honours in South America as a potential candidate to succeed the Argentine.

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Double Copa Libertadores winner eyed as Bielsa successor

Palmeiras manager Abel Ferreira celebrates with the 2020 Copa Libertadores trophy

Meanwhile, Leeds United have identified a trophy-winning manager who wants to leave his current club to replace Marcelo Bielsa, as per reports.

According to UOL, Portuguese manager Abel Ferreira features as one of the main candidates to fill the void if Bielsa were to depart.

Ferreira, 42, manages Palmeiras in Brazil. Since taking over in November 2020, he has helped them to win historic back-to-back Copa Libertadores trophies.

The second success in the South American equivalent of the Champions League came last weekend with a 2-1 final win over fellow Brazilian side Flamengo. He also won the Brazilian cup last season.

Ferreira’s contract with Palmeiras runs until December next year. But he has made it clear to the club that he is thinking of leaving.

Ferreira is said to be taking a holiday back to Portugal in the coming days. It is during this trip when he will consider his future.

An alternative that Leeds have also picked out is his fellow countryman, Ruben Amorim. The Portuguese guided Sporting Lisbon to the league title last season, so is another attractive target. However, he has a €30m release clause, which is the opposite of appealing.

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