Marcelo Bielsa has refused to criticise Brazil national team coach Tite for his refusal to select Leeds star Raphinha on the back of his dazzling season at Elland Road.
Raphinha, 24, joined the Whites in October last year for an undisclosed fee reported to be in the region of £17 million. The Brazilian has made a huge contribution, leading many to question how he was allowed to leave for such a lowly fee. In total, Raphinha chipped in with six goals and weighed in with nine assists during an excellent debut campaign.
That sort of form has resulted in a number of clubs reportedly expressing an admiration for the former Rennes star. The likes of Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool have all been linked with moves.
Indeed, his former Sporting Lisbon teammate, Bruno Fernandes, cannot stop talking about the player, according to one Red Devils star.
Despite his dazzling contribution, Raphinha is yet to win a call-up to the Brazil squad. Their coach Tite called up 23 players for their current World Cup qualifiers and the Copa America. The likes of Richarlison, Gabriel Barbosa, Vinicius Junior and Neymar were all selected ahead of him.
However, rather than criticise Tite for his decisions, Bielsa offered a typically gentlemanly response.
“That’s because the person who has all the possibilities to make the right decision is the national team coach. Especially having a man as intelligent as Brazil has.
“I can say if a player is doing well or not. But I can’t compare this player with the other options. Yes, I have a deep knowledge of Raphinha’s quality, but I don’t deeply know the other players who play in the same position as him and are of the same nationality.
“My opinion is that he’s a great player.”
Bielsa admits Brazilian job appeal
Having coached the Argentina and Chile national sides, Bielsa admits to having an apprecation of the Brazilian league. Indeed, while he is expected to soon sign a new deal at Leeds, Bielsa states he would one day like to coach in the country.
“I’d love to know Brazil participating in the Brazilian League,” the 65-year-old said. “Brazilian football has always – for us who love football – has been a big question mark, because we see the best of Brazilian football, but we don’t see how it’s formed. After all, Brazil is a huge country.”
“That’s a league that is ‘marathonic’. I don’t mean the state ones, but the national ones – and I always had the fantasy of how beautiful it’d be to know all of Brazilian football by taking part in a team and taking part in this tournament where it is possible to know the essence of Brazilian football. Obviously, I have less time each day.”