Marcelo Bielsa has admitted Leeds are working hard to work on bringing new players to the club this month – and said it won’t be for lack of trying if United draw a blank once again this month.
The Whites appear to have hit a brick wall in their attempts to persuade Southampton to allow Che Adams to leave, with boss Ralph Hassenhuttl winning his battle to keep the striker at St Mary’s.
Leeds are now reported to have moved on to other targets, but with memories of last January’s failed capture of Dan James still fresh in supporters’ minds, Bielsa insists the club are doing all they can.
“We’re aware that we have to replace players,” he told a press conference on Thursday. “[Director of football] Victor Orta is working very hard to resolve this. The president supports the needs of the team.
“If we cannot resolve it, it is not going to be for a lack of effort or because someone is not engaged. We cannot say that is going to happen the same as Dan James or we didn’t take advantage of Nketiah. None and both conclusions are true. What we have to do is describe how things are and accept supporters and the press judge us how they think we have to be judged.”
Leeds are in the market for a new striker after Arsenal decided to recall Eddie Nketiah, but contrary to earlier claims they were prepared to loan him out elsewhere, the Gunners have now decided to retain his services for the rest of the season.
That has puzzled some people, given Arsenal’s reasoning was a lack of playing time and that his situation will be little better at Emirates Stadium, and Bielsa is clearly frustrated by the Gunners’ stance.
And Bielsa believes the treatment of Leeds from Arsenal was “unfair”.
“We did everything we promised so we have nothing to blame ourselves for,” he added. “The same with (Jack) Clarke.
“I have done all the explanations, given all the information, the unfair treatment of Arsenal and Nketiah, the three of them to Leeds. When they choose Leeds, Leeds took an engagement to the Arsenal decision and Nketiah’s decision. They thought a lot about it. They choose us putting away other options they have.
“We did everything we said we were going to do. So, we have nothing to claim ourselves. The same with Clarke. In this moment we don’t have those two players and the club is going to do all is possible to resolve the situation. ”
Asked whether Leeds had been offered any other players to sign, Bielsa continued: “No, it never happened I had to say no to one player because Victor knows which players I am looking for and the characteristics of the team.
“There are a lot of things we consider in this window. How much time is left, how long the player takes to adapt, if the player who comes is ready or not, the adaptation of how much one player costs the club, after the adaptation with team-mates because if nobody comes, after we are going to predict we don’t bring someone.
“If we bring one wrong player we will predict we took a bad decision. We are going to try to find the right player, but we are not going to bring one player who doesn’t fit with us just to say we brought someone in.
“Even if we lack one more attacker we are not going to bring someone in who doesn’t fit because a difficult decision to take because the player who comes is going to be an option to [Patrick] Bamford. The player who comes instead of Clarke will compete with all our wingers. This happens in every team. We are not in condition to say to one player you will come and play the rest of the season.”