Leeds have reportedly agreed a deal for Marcelo Bielsa to become their new Head Coach, according to reports in his native Argentina.
The Yorkshiremen are seeking their third manager of 2018 already after on Friday confirming the departure of Paul Heckingbottom after just 16 matches in charge. He won just four of his games in charge of United and proved a largely divisive character during his brief stay.
Managing director Angus Kinnear confirmed Leeds would now focus on recruiting the right man to take the squad forward as they plot a long-awaited return to Premier League.
A swift appointment is expected. Reports in both Argentina and Italy suggest former Argentina and Chile coach Bielsa – a 2012 Europa League finalist with Athletic Bilbao and last in work at Lille – is top of Leeds’ wanted list.
And Cesar Luis Merlo, a Buenes Aires based journalist for TyC Sports, claims a deal for Bielsa has already been agreed and will be finalised as soon as Leeds manage to obtain a work permit.
Bielsa lleva varias semanas negociando con Leeds. Incluso, hubo más de una charla en Argentina con dirigentes de ese club. Es un hecho que el Loco vuelve a dirigir
— César Luis Merlo (@CLMerlo) June 1, 2018
His tweets translate to: “Bielsa has been negotiating with Leeds for several weeks. There was even more than one talk in Argentina with leaders of that club.
“The Madman [Bielsa’s nickname] already has agreement with Leeds, the authorization of the FA and the only thing that remains is that England gives him the work permit.”
Reports in the local media in Leeds further substantiate these claims and it’s thought a deal for Bielsa could be announced as early as Monday.
Whatever is eventually decided by Italian owner Andrea Radrizzani and the board, Leeds’ new manager will be their 11th since April 2013 – more than any other team in the English league.
“Our objective is to bring in a head coach with more experience who can help us reach the goals we have talked about since we became custodian of the club last summer,” Kinnear said.
“We are confident of making a quick appointment and we thank our fans for their continued support.”
Assistant manager Jamie Clapham, head of fitness Nathan Winder and analyst Alex Bailey will also leave the club, with set-piece coach Gianni Vio not having his contract renewed, Leeds confirmed, which will present the new boss with a clean slate.
Kinnear paid tribute to Heckingbottom’s efforts during a testing period.
“On behalf of the board of directors at Leeds United I would like to thank Paul for the commitment and passion he has demonstrated since he joined the club earlier this year,” he said.
“Paul came to us during a difficult period in the season and has conducted himself in an exemplary manner despite results not going as any of us had hoped.”