Leeds United wanted Conte, Ranieri and Martinez before Bielsa arrival, reveals Radrizzani

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has revealed that he had shortlisted Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Roberto Martinez for the Whites managerial vacancy earlier this summer before appointing Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road.

Monday, 20th August 2018, 10:48 am
Updated Monday, 20th August 2018, 11:05 am
Andrea Radrizzani (L) with Marcelo Bielsa (R).

The Italian, who was speaking to Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, says that former Chelsea managers Conte and Ranieri were priorities for the club even admitting he would have offered the former €20 million to take over in West Yorkshire.

Belgium boss Martinez was also a target but complications struck with the World Cup before Radrizzani landed the Argentine who he was told would be "impossible" to get through the Thorp Arch doors.

"Conte [was on the list] and with him, we would have been certain of promotion to the Premier League," Radrizzani told La Gazzetta dello Sport report ESPN.

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Andrea Radrizzani (L) with Marcelo Bielsa (R).

"I would even have offered him €20 million. Then I interviewed [Claudio] Ranieri who was attracted by our interest, but declined as he was waiting for a call from a top-flight club. I even spoke to [Roberto] Martinez, but Belgium were an obstacle.

"At the end of May, I spoke with our director of football [Victor] Orta and he said Bielsa would be ideal, but that it would be impossible [to get him]. Those words just motivated me even more and we negotiated for a few days then reached an agreement at £3m, which he shares with his staff, and a one year plus one year option as duration.

"We finished negotiations after ten hours of conversation in Buenos Aires. He'd studied 20 of our games and already knew all the players, including the youngsters. It seemed impossible to get him here, but he's our top player. We are a Premier League club, and even more so with him."

Radrizzani also revealed that he wants top flight football sooner rather than later for Leeds, adding that if he can't achieve it he will return to Italy: "England is the ultimate and I'm aiming for the Premier League within 3-4 years, otherwise I might think about returning [to Italy]."