Leeds United are already well into the process of clearing the decks of extraneous players but managing director Angus Kinnear expects incoming deals to materialise shortly after describing the transfer plans of new head coach Marcelo Bielsa as “well advanced”.
Leeds have so far removed two names from their wage bill – midfielder Madger Gomes and goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald – and are in discussions over the departure of Marcus Antonsson to Italian side Brescia but the club are awaiting their first signing of the summer with Bielsa due to begin work at Thorp Arch in four days’ time.
United spent several weeks engaging the charismatic Argentinian and agreed a two-year contract with him last Friday, two weeks on from the sacking of former first-team chief Paul Heckingbottom.
The process of changing head coach has taken up a month-and-a-half of the transfer window but Kinnear, who was heavily involved in discussions to bring Bielsa to Elland Road, said detailed conversations about transfers had taken place during the recruitment process.
United and their director of football, Victor Orta, have done the groundwork on a number of potential recruits, including Hull City forward Abel Hernandez, Derby County striker Matej Vydra, Swansea City centre-back Kyle Bartley and goalkeepers Angus Gunn and David Stockdale.
Bielsa’s appointment, however, is likely to open the door to loan signings from a number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. The 62-year-old will fly into England on Saturday and hold his first training sessions early next week.
Speaking to Leeds’ official website, Kinnear said: “Our first priority is making sure that Marcelo integrates into the training set-up straight away.
“He’s been very clear on what he wants from pre-season and in our first meeting he already had technical drawings of Thorp Arch and very clear ideas on the layout and how Thorp Arch would need to work on a functional basis to deliver against his principles and methodology. There’s a lot we need to get right so he can come in and hit the ground running.
“Simultaneously, he’s having discussions about transfer targets and what we want to achieve in the transfer market.
“I know some people were frustrated about the length of the process in getting him to sign but during that process he was more focused on the team’s preparation than he was on getting the finer details of the contract agreed. So a lot of those conversations in terms of what we need to do from a transfer perspective are well advanced.”
Getting Leeds back into the Premier League is one of the biggest jobs in world football. Marcelo understands that.Angus Kinnear
Tottenham chief Mauricio Pochettino worked under Bielsa several times during his playing career, including for Argentina’s national team, and Leeds have been linked with Spurs’ young Argentinian centre-back Juan Foyth. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is also a firm admirer of Bielsa’s and United’s chief has other connections at Arsenal.
Kinnear said: “For us, the tangible element of that is going to be the type of conversations we can have with transfer targets and other clubs – players, and managers who are going to want their players to learn under Marcelo.”
Kinnear said Bielsa understood that he was taking on “one of the biggest jobs in world football” by accepting the challenge of ending Leeds’ 14-year exile from the Premier League. Bielsa remarked on the day of his appointment that it was “the right project” for him after previous offers to manage in England.
“Getting Leeds back into the Premier League is one of the biggest jobs in world football,” Kinnear said. “Marcelo understands that. He understands the scale of the challenge and the scale of the prize. He was really taken by the opportunity. It’s significant that Leeds was the right offer for him.
“When you’re looking at a head coach, the level of diligence that they’ve put into understanding the current squad and the challenges of the league you’re in is a really good barometer of how seriously they take the opportunity and how meticulous they’re going to be. He took that to another level in terms of his research.”