The transfer window starts with a bang this year, as we announce six new arrivals at the beginning of July to rubber stamp my arrival at Elland Road, two of which are loanees from an old friend of mine - Pep Guardiola - who has lent us two of his youth prospects.
The first arrival was Angus Gunn
who arrives on loan from Manchester City. For the duration of his loan, we will not have to pay any of his wages, with all of his £4,000 weekly wage being paid for by oil-rich City. Included in this deal, there is the option to purchase Gunn permanently for a meagre fee of just £2million.
Gunn has yet to experience a full season involved in first-team football, but I believe that he could be one of the best goalkeepers in the league this season should he play up to his maximum ability.
Another loan signing poached from our new ally Manchester City is the hot prospect Phil Foden
. Fresh from a busy summer playing for England Under-17's where the Young Lions finished runners-up, Foden has linked up with the team, with Man City once again paying the wages for the youngster who has been tipped for stardom by the English media.
Although he falls lower in the pecking order than the likes of Samu Sáiz and Pablo Hernandez due to both current skill as well as experience, I will be looking to develop this very technical young player and send him back to the Etihad an improved player. Foden has already began tutoring under Kalvin Phillips' guidance, who will be looking to improve his physical and mental side of his game.
Now for the first permanent signing of the summer, and that is in the form of former Hull City striker Abel Hernández
. The player was released on a free transfer at the end of last season as Hull could simply not maintain his wage the more they slid down the footballing ladder. The 27-time Uruguayan international signed for Hull on deadline day in 2014 in a £10M transfer from Palermo.
Hernández has already proven himself at Championship level before. In the 2015/16 campaign he led Hull straight back into the Premier League following the previous relegation from the top-flight. He finished the season on 20 goals in 39 league games. However, Hernández's career has been blighted by injury problems, and he has only ever been fit throughout a whole season just once in his career. This is a concern we had to take into account before making the forward our highest-earning player, but for his quality he may just be worth the risk.
from Derby was our next acquisition with the most expensive transfer since Leeds' Champions League days. The attacking-midfielder costed us £9M and was a deal which had to be done through a meeting with the board to access the funds. We are delighted with this transfer as we look to create a potent attacking force with the likes of Pablo and Abel Hernández as well as Samu Sáiz.
The Czech international has made himself an undoubtedly quality player adapted perfectly for the Championship through his spells with Watford and Derby in recent years. With a front four consisting of Hernandez, Hernández and Sáiz, we are looking at a very threatening team this season.
After his season with the club last time around made him a cult hero at Elland Road, Kyle Bartley
returns to the club and is reunited with his defensive partner Pontus Jansson at Elland Road for this season's attempt at promotion.
The towering centre-back joins the club for £4.5M on £18,000 per week at the Whites and has delighted fans by showing his dedication to the club following Garry Monk's leadership.
After making his name in the Scottish football sphere, John McGinn
arrives at Elland Road for a bargain £1.5M. The 22-year-old central midfielder was born in Glasgow and has been recognised as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in Scotland for the past few seasons.
A much more affordable signing, McGinn joins on a three-year deal on £7,000 per week. McGinn will be competing in a very congested central midfield spot where there are no less than 9 players in that position in the current first-team at Elland Road.
In typical Bielsa fashion, we will be playing a 3-3-3-1 formation this year which has revolutionised the football scene after the spells with Argentina and Chile with highly demanding pressing, elaborate attacking and transitioning set up which concluded in a commendable exciting style of play.
The slightly eccentric 3-3-3-1 formation, which consists of three defenders - one sweeper with two stoppers at each side, three midfielders - one defensive shield with two lateral-volantes at each side, three attacking midfielders - one enganche and two inside forwards at each side and one target forward.
The 3–3–3–1 allows great transitions from defending to attacking, as many of the players used in the formation can perform both defensive and attacking tasks, this enables the team to establish superiority in numbers in every part of the field since with this formation his teams could defend with seven players, attack with six or seven players, or protect a scoreline by overwhelming the midfield with 6 players.
To use 3–3–3–1, all players have to quickly set to attacking positions when the ball is in the team's possession, and all players have to aggressively press and recover the ball when it is not in possession requiring a lot of teamwork and cohesion demanding his team to play as a unit without reliance on any individual skill.
With this as our main tactic, I will look to use different formations such as the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 in ways that Bielsa has used before at Athletic Bilbao and Marseille to fulfil his philosophy.
With the arrival of Angus Gunn, we now have three goalkeepers in our ranks, following Felix Wiedwald's departure to Frankfurt before my arrival. This leaves Gunn as our best keeper in the team, followed by Lonergan (who is currently transfer-listed) and Bailey Peacock-Farrell who impressed last season in a poor Heckingbottom side. With Lonergan on his way out this summer, we will look to bring in a more experienced keeper to join the ranks.
With Vurnon Anita on such a high wage, I will be looking to offload him this summer with the Dutchman valued at £6.5M. This would leave me with the choice between Berardi, Ayling and Coyle for the right wing-back role in the team, which I feel Lewie Coyle is actually best suited for. I could also look to move Ayling into the centre of defence this season alongside Jansson and Bartley for added depth.
Pontus Jansson returns for another season as our standout centre-back for this campaign, and he is reunited with his old partner Kyle Bartley at the back who joins from Swansea City. Liam Cooper has been unlucky in his recent years at the club, particularly after he didn't impress last season despite being captain of the team. However, he hasn't been transfer listed yet and I may give him until January to show me why he should remain at the club. Under-23 players Paudie O'Connor and Aapo Halme are also in with a shout at first-team football this year after impressing youth coaches at the club.
The team is running especially light in the left-back position after selling Charlie Taylor last season. Both Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom have had to use Berardi in the left-back position until Tom Pearce was recommended by Under-23 manager Carlos Corberan and shone in the last few games of last season. It is an area I will look to improve on this summer.
The centre of midfield is a position where we are currently spoilt for choice with good players. The acquisition of John McGinn this summer has bolstered it further and has become one the best midfielders in the team. Mateusz Klich delighted Utrecht fans in his loan spell with the Eredivisie side last season so the Polish 27-year-old will be getting a look-in this season, alongside January signing Adam Forshaw. Vieira and Ideguchi will be used sporadically due to their youth, and depending on form, could secure a regular place in the team.
Stuart Dallas is into his third season at Elland Road after joining from Brentford in 2015. The Northern Irish international has been a consistent performer throughout his stay at the club and I am hoping for more of the same from the winger. I will look to sell Cibicki after a poor season last time around and I will try and bring January signing up to full fitness for use on the right-wing or as a striker this season.
Samu Sáiz delighted fans last season and almost immediately became a favourite down at Elland Road for his talent and flamboyancy on-field. However, his season was marred by a six-game suspension for spitting at a Newport County player in the FA Cup. He will return this season and hopefully with more discipline. Our new signing Matej Vydra also bolsters this position more after startling season last time with Derby County. Pablo Hernandez and Phil Foden will offer even more back-up in this area.
The left side of our squad really does need filling up slightly more as I am tempted to use Alioski as a left wing-back rather than a winger this season, and Madger Gomes is simply not up to the standard I need to mount a promotion push this season. More signings are to be expected in this area.
Abel Hernández has helped improve the standard of strikers in the squad, and you can expect Matej Vydra to be making an appearance up-front where Hernández is absent. Jay-Roy Grot will be sold as he is not up to the required quality for the team, and Temenezukhov is definitely one for the future and could be sent out on loan this season.