Marcelo Bielsa has indicated that Leeds United’s exciting January signing Jean-Kevin Augustin may have to wait before making his full debut for the Whites.
The Championship promotion hopefuls announced the capture of the French striker from Red Bull Leipzig on Monday morning, the capture of Augustin – which could become a permanent £19.7m deal in the summer – a significant coup for Bielsa’s side.
The player got his first taste of Elland Road’s electric atmosphere on Tuesday night as the Whites recovered from 2-0 to beat Millwall 3-2 and return to the top of the table.
Augustin was not in the matchday squad that night and, with Wigan lying in wait on Saturday at Elland Road, Bielsa has hinted he may have to wait longer for his first start.
“It’s too soon to evaluate that,” Bielsa responded when asked if Augustin was ready to start. “Also it’s natural the process of adaptation of one player is not going to be short. For our last experience we had, always it’s a process that lasts more than one month.”
Bielsa, however, admitted that Augustin has looked sharp since joining in with training and added: “He has played a few days ago, he’s a player well trained. He has good physical condition, natural. Very good, but when you have to adapt to one team it depends on more than that – other factors.”
Leeds ended up losing Eddie Nketiah earlier this month following Arsenal’s decision to recall him.
Much of the England U21 striker’s time at Leeds saw questions being asked about his game-time and United manager was asked if he felt No 1 striker Patrick Bamford and new-boy Augustin could play alongside one another.
“Nketiah and Bamford played together. You ask me for one situation we did before. They can play together. What I cannot say is if this will happen again,” Bielsa admitted.
The Leeds United boss was then asked if he was satisfied with his squad and whether he felt they were strong enough for the promotion run-in.
“You ask me to evaluate something we cannot evaluate yet because we don’t see it on the pitch yet,” he answered. “We always work with around 18 players. Two players left the club [Nketiah and Jack Clarke].
“If we hadn’t got important players who look very good substitutions we can continue with the players we have in the group, but we have to say [Ian] Poveda and Augustin improve the group.
“We don’t know how their adaptation process will be. Those processes always have been long because our play requires co-ordination in the way that is important for us.
“For example, for Nketiah, he took some time to adapt to the collective co-ordinations, but finally he could play in the first team as one of the starters, moving Patrick to the bench.
“One thing is play and another thing is play and move the starting number nine. In the situation of Clarke, Pablo [Hernandez], [Helder] Costa and [Jack] Harrison always did well so they didn’t allow Clarke to play instead.
“For one player to play, he needs to move one player that is playing or after play because we have injured players or one player is enough. All this process. We don;’t know how this process will be for players three days into the club.”