Leeds United

Leeds United


Victor Orta reveals Leeds considered current Milan target after sacking Marcelo Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa, Victor Orta, Paulo Fonseca

Victor Orta reveals he could have appointed Paulo Fonseca after Marcelo Bielsa's exit

Leeds United’s former sporting director Victor Orta has admitted he had a “really good meeting” with another manager before hiring Jesse Marsch as Marcelo Bielsa’s replacement.

Bielsa took over at Leeds in the summer of 2018 and turned a mid-table Championship team into one that was able to compete in the Premier League a couple of years later.

After helping them end their 16-year spell outside the English top-flight in 2020, the Argentine led Leeds to a ninth-place finish the following campaign.

However, the former Argentina national boss was sacked as the Whites’ results nosedived in early 2022, before ex-Red Bull Salzburg manager Marsch was appointed and led them to Premier League safety.

But the Peacocks never looked convincing under the American and in February 2023 he too was dismissed and Leeds finished the season in the relegation zone, ending their three-year stint in the Premier League.

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Now, Orta, who was let go by Leeds last year before becoming Sevilla’s sporting director, has revealed he met with Paulo Fonseca about possibly replacing Bielsa in 2022.

Leeds met with Fonseca over manager role

He said at a TransferRoom conference: “It was, to be honest, a really good meeting. Normally, these first interviews are really good, it’s like a first date, you say ‘Look, your club is amazing, your chairman is amazing, your fans are amazing, the city is amazing’, now In Seville it’s easier than perhaps it was at Leeds.

“But, you need to try that and the coach says, ‘I have a real work commitment, I am really good with the players, a really good leader’. It’s normal because you try to impress, and then after the meetings, normally you need to take another opinion from a player that he trained or another director that worked with him.

“And these opinions are obviously subjective. This is the thing, to try to create a model of decision that’s fairer for the coaches, fairer for the clubs, and with more information, it will be really useful.”

Former Roma manager Fonseca, who has impressed at Lille and has guided them to fourth place in Ligue 1 this season, then gave his thoughts on meeting Orta about the Leeds role.

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When asked how it was for the Portuguese, he replied at the same event: “It was fast. Honestly, we didn’t speak too much in this day, you [Orta] showed me more about your club, at that time Leeds, about the facilities, the philosophy, the culture of the club, even the city, it was more about this.”

Fonseca is reportedly among the candidates to replace Stefano Pioli at AC Milan, with the Italian manager tipped to leave the Rossoneri this summer. The 51-year-old, however, was tight-lipped when asked about such rumours and his future.

He said, via Radio Rossonera: “I’m totally focused on the last four matches [of the season for Lille]. The team’s future is certainly more important than mine. I don’t know what I’ll do next year, I haven’t decided yet.”

This is possibly a case of what might have been for Fonseca and Leeds.