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Bielsa to finally sign on the dotted line
Wednesday, 19th Aug 2020 20:20 by Tim Whelan

Leeds have been a bit short on major signings so far in this close season, but finally we have news of the most important one of all. Marcello Bielsa is ready to commit himself to another season at Elland Road.

Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that Bielsa has reached a ‘full agreement’ with Andrea Radrizzani to continue as Leeds United head coach for a further 12 months.

There had been a small amount of concern while the 65-year-old was yet to put pen to paper, especially when the Barcelona job became vacant, but there was never any great likelihood that the Argentinian maestro was going to turn down the chance to manage in the Premier League for the first time.

Earlier in the week Chief executive Angus Kinnear told The Square Ball’s podcast that the delay in formally sealing the deal was that Bielsa was more concerned with the fine details of preparing for the challenge of operating in the top division. “He is so fixated on the preparations for next season the contract plays a secondary role.”

“We would like to announce it, but at every meeting, Victor and I meet with him pretty much daily, it’s more around the changes he wants to make at the training ground, the players we’re looking at, how we’re going to develop the under-23s, how we’re going to backfill Carlos [Corberan]’s role and then we might get a little bit to the contract at the end.”

So we’ve got the head coach to sign on the dotted line, but now we need to get on with the serious business of boosting the playing squad, with time running out to prepare for the new season. We’ve not yet maintained the strength of last season’s team, given that one report is claiming that Brighton are now demanding as much as £55m for Ben White, which surely will be beyond our budget.

The four new signings (as opposed to players we previously had on loan) so far are all youngsters, with the latest being 17-year-old goalkeeper Dani van den Heuvel, who has come from Ajax. He joins Charlie Allen, Cody Drameh Joe Gelhardt, the other new arrivals in the Under-23 squad. All four will hopefully have a bright future at Elland Road, but the coming season will be tough if we don’t get some more experienced players on board before it starts.

We need at least a central defender (assuming we don’t end up with White) and a striker. Ollie Watkins could be available for his £18m buy-out fee, but Newcastle are also interested, as are Aston Villa, who have the advantage of offering Watkins the chance to work with his former boss Dean Smith, if he finds that tempting in any way.

The fixtures for the new season will be announced at 9am tomorrow morning, so now that Bielsa has confirmed he is staying he will have something else to get fixated about, analysing all the teams we will have to play in the first few weeks.

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