Bielsa Departs Leeds
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that he has left the club following the expiry of his contract at Elland Road.
The 65-year-old Argentinian became a legend at the Whites for securing their return to the English top-flight after Leeds were relegated under club icon Eddie Gray in 2004.
Bielsa took over from the sacked Paul Heckingbottom after the 2017/18 season when the club tumbled down the division under the ex-Barnsley man following an impressive start with the now-Panama manager Thomas Christiansen.
Leeds’ animated Spanish Director of Football Victor Orta was influential in bringing Bielsa from Rosario to West Yorkshire, having initially suggested the hire when asked who his favourite manager in the world is by club chairman Andrea Radrizzani.
Following 4 weeks of intense negotiations between Bielsa’s representatives and the Leeds United board, Bielsa was officially unveiled as the Whites’ new manager on 15th June 2018.
Bielsa gave up Leeds’ Championship automatic promotion spot to Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United in his first season with a disappointing run of games towards the end of the 2018/19 season dropping them into the dreaded Play-Offs, where they lost a First Leg lead in the Semi-Finals to Frank Lampard’s Derby County at Elland Road.
Leeds added to 2018/19s relative success by adding Hélder Costa, Ben White, Illan Meslier and Eddie Nketiah, funded by Jack Clarke’s £11million move to Tottenham Hotspur, managed by José Mourinho.
In one of the most impressive promotion seasons the Championship has seen, Bielsa led his Leeds United team to the league title with a 10 point gap between their closest competitors West Bromwich Albion.
Continuing from COVID-19s impact on crowds at games, Leeds United’s return to the Premier League brought Bielsa’s achievements to a wider European audience as they finished 9th in their first season back, finishing just three points away from a European qualification spot.
One of Bielsa's most notable signings - Raphinha - signed for £18million from Rennes in 2020
Having spent big in their first summer back, bringing in the likes of Rodrigo, Raphinha, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, Bielsa has led this season’s transfers so far, making Jack Harrison’s three-year loan permanent in an £11million deal, he replaced Gjanni Alioski with Barcelona’s Junior Firpo. Most recently, he finally captured long-term target Dan James from Manchester United, two years after his former club Swansea cancelled a £3million January move on Deadline Day.
Bielsa has left a statement for the Leeds United fans following his departure today, displaying his love for the club and the ferocious support he received during his three years at the helm.
It remains to be seen where both parties go after Bielsa’s departure, with the Argentine not getting any younger and Leeds’ direction as a club being led by Bielsa’s philosophy.
Pundits are touting some of Bielsa’s so-called ‘disciples’ like Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and Eduardo Berizzo - the latter being Marcelo Bielsa’s former assistant as Chile national team manager and has recently been relieved of his duties as Paraguay’s manager.