Leeds United are reportedly preparing to resist an approach from Chelsea for director of football Victor Orta and amid claims he could reportedly look to bring four stars with him to Stamford Bridge.
New Blues owner Todd Boehly has doubled up as a sporting director since buying out Roman Abroamovich. His duel role did not hamper Chelsea’s summer recruitment though with the club splashing out an incredible £253m. That approach saw Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling all arrive at Stamford Bridge for giant fees.
However, there was a feeling among critics that Boehly’s recruitment took a little bit of a scattergun approach. Indeed, Gary Neville accused the American of playing Football Manager during his early signings for the Blues.
As such, with the summer window out the way, there’s little surprise to see Boehly now focusing on the appointment of a new sporting director.
The Blues transfer deadlings were previously handled by both Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech. However, the pair left Stamford Bridge in June following Boehly’s takeover.
But finding someone to step into their shoes has proven a harder than expected task.
Following links with Michael Edwards, the former Liverpool sporting director, the Blues honed in on RB Salzburg’s Christoph Freund. Known as the man who discovered Erling Haaland among others, Chelsea thought they had a deal in place.
However, despite the 45-year-old being keen, Salzburg were unwilling to negotiate his release.
As such, Wednesday’s Transfer Gossip named Orta, as well as Paul Mitchell, as leading candidates for the post.
Under Orta’s guidance, Leeds have re-established themselves as a Premier League club again.
Journalist claims four Leeds stars could follow Victor Orta to Chelsea
His best and most sizeable business was the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as first-team coach.
The Argentine, who left Leeds earlier this year, retains legendary status after his near four-year spell in charge.
But there were other noticeable transfer coups too, with Raphinha – a £17m signing from Rennes in 2020 – the pick of the crop.
As such, it’s easy to understand why Chelsea are reportedly keen on the 43-year-old.
Speculating that Orta will be tempted to make the move, Daily Express journalist Andrew McLean has identified four players who could follow him to Stamford Bridge.
While the report is without basis, he suggests Orta would have no hesitation in targeting four of Leeds’ best stars.
Top of that list would be Jack Harrison, who has caught the eye this season. His deal is due to expire in 2024 and talks over an extension are due to take place in the coming weeks.
Orta would also reportedly look to target a move for Illan Meslier, though Chelsea are extremely well stocked in that department. As it stands, they have Kepa, Edouard Mendy and Gabriel Slonina.
It’s also speculated by McLean that Orta would target a move for USA star Brenden Aaronson, who has impressed since his move from RB Salzburg.
And finally, he believes an approach for promising young forward Joe Gelhardt would also be on the cards.
All links are non-starters
Truth be told, Chelsea are more likely to appoint Mitchell than they are Orta. They have already held talks with the former RB Leipzig and Tottenham man, and he appears far nearer the job.
And despite the occasional transfer failings Orta has made at Leeds – Kiko Casilla and Jean-Kevin Augustin – perhaps the most obvious, the club would fight to keep him at Elland Road.
Besides, Orta has a huge passion for Leeds United and has ignored overtures before when they came following his first year at the club.
Furthermore, there is nothing concrete to suggest any of those four players will follow Orta to Chelsea.
The quartet will likely all one day come in for attention from other clubs, such is the way football operates. But to suggest they could become targets of Orta is wild speculation at best at this stage.
And at this stage, Leeds’ first and only priority will be to ensure Victor Orta stays put.