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Exciting times ahead as Leeds plan for the future
Sunday, 21st Feb 2021 08:39 by Tim Whelan

Leeds are already thinking of how to improve the squad during the transfer window in the coming summer, but the planning is going further ahead than that, from the retention of Marcello Bielsa to the development of Elland Road.

At a Business of Football summit two earlier in the week Andrea Radrizzani announced that Leeds United are now valued at £300m after the most recent investment from the San Francisco 49ers. But it won’t stop there, and this figure could rise to more than £1bn after the proposed redevelopment of Elland Road.

The 49ers now own 37 per cent of the club, and Radrizzani said their partnership combines his knowledge of European football and the 49ers' expertise in stadium development, merchandising and income management. "The relationship with the 49ers started two and a half years ago. They started to support the budget and trust in my vision to bring Leeds back to the Premier League.”

"The relationship developed very well, and we became good friends. To be honest in our time in the Championship, their support was very limited to being a fan and a friend. Being promoted, we have much larger opportunities and their know-how is very complementary to our group and Leeds United's management.”

And Angus Kinnear told the Leeds United podcast that the club’s vision is to have a "world-class" stadium at Elland Road, and that plans for an increase in capacity have accelerated following promotion to the Premier League. The plans are for the development of the West and North stands to take the capacity from it’s current level of 36,000 to above 50,000.

There is certainly the demand to fill an expanded Elland Road, with the club said to have a waiting list of 20,000 would-be season ticket holders, and we will all be itching to get back to seeing our heroes in the flesh once this godforsaken pandemic is over. But to justify the development of Elland Road in the long term we will need a successful side that fans will want to watch, so plans are also afoot to maintain the improvement on the playing side.

First of all, they would ideally secure the services of Marcello Bielsa for at least one more season, as the Argentinian likes to operate on a year-on-year rolling contract. Hopefully this is just a formality, and in an interview with CBS Sports this weekend, Andrea Radrizzani said “‘Marcelo knows we are happy with him. If he stays, we are really delighted to continue. If the group is happy with him, I am also happy and we should continue.”

“I believe this team is not finished yet, [and] Marcelo as well. They need to come and enjoy Elland Road with the fans in the Premier League. It’s what he deserves as a manager, and it’s a unique experience.” But Radz did admit that they are planning for all eventualities. “‘So, it’s up to him. We wait on his decision but in any case, myself and Victor have already analysed the options and what to do in case Marcelo does not want to be with us”.

“We hope he will continue but in any case we are preparing the club.” It’s quite right that they are preparing for the future, and given the fact that Bielsa is now 65, they must know that he won’t be at Elland Road for that many more years, so they need to give some thought at least as to his eventual successor.

But surely he will stay with us for at least one more season, when he has so much more to achieve with his current squad. Phil Hay has quoted as source close to Bielsa as saying the head coach is “more and more in the long game. “And he also quoted an Argentinian journalist as telling him “The Leeds project maintains absolute commitment from all sides.”

And in The Athletic Hay has also claimed that Victor Orta has already begun discussions with Bielsa about transfers during the summer, with the priorities being a left-back, a central midfield player and another striker. Leeds are still interested in signing Rodrigo De Paul, and other names in the frame include Romain Perraud, Erick Pulgar, and Loic Bade.

But one player who is unlikely to be joining us is Wolves winger Adama Traore, even though it was his powerful run and shot that led to the only goal of the game on Friday night. In a pre-match Q&A Hay was asked about the speculation on Eurosport linking him to Leeds, but he’s been told there is nothing in it.

We’ve had a habit of signing Wolves players in recent years, with Barry Douglas and Helda Costa coming to Leeds, but we have plenty of wingers already. Leeds are far more likely to convert Jack Harrison’s current loan into a permanent move at £11m, and Orta and Bielsa have already agreed that our other signings will need to strengthen other areas of the squad.

We live in hope that by the start of next season we will be back inside Elland Road, and there is every chance that we will have some exciting football to watch when we get there.

Photo: Action Images



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