Leeds United: Whites chasing Chelsea's England midfielder Baker
Marcelo Bielsa's initial working week at Leeds United has ended with the club closing in on their first deal of the summer.
The Argentine began work on Monday and was unveiled to the media in a mammoth 80-minute press conference in which he was quizzed over a vast amount of issues from the club’s plight to Lionel Messi’s World Cup woes.
“We believe his philosophy and vision reflect our desire to become a winning club,” United owner Andrea Radrizzani proclaimed as introduced the man he had chased so desperately over the two prior weeks.
Now though, the real work begins at Leeds United.
It didn’t take long for Bielsa to implement triple training sessions and begin wielding the axe at Thorp Arch, but the fact remains that United are yet to bring in any new faces to the club.
Yet, the emergence of Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker as a top target could well get the ball rolling in the coming days.
It’s not hard to see why the 23-year-old would be a perfect fit for the Argentine’s philosophy, formation and style along with the young and hungry squad that Bielsa will most likely shape under his watch.
It could yet be a loan but United would prefer a more permanent arrangement for Baker’s services and despite his relative youth, he boasts a wealth of experience having enjoyed a number of loan spells away from West London.
After a short stint in south Yorkshire with Sheffield Wednesday, Baker helped MK Dons to promotion from League One in 2015 before lifting the Dutch Cup with Vitesse Arhem in 2017 to conclude a two-year stay in the Netherlands.
Despite a career which has been on an upward trajectory for the last few seasons, Baker failed to make much of an impact at United’s Championship rivals Middlesbrough where he was signed by former Whites boss Garry Monk.
He made just just 12 appearances for Boro last term scoring once.
He is a player who has represented England across the youth ranks and has a host of individual awards, including Young Player of the Year, from his time with the Blues.
But Baker may now feel the time is right to fly the Stamford Bridge nest, a club he has been part of the furniture of since the tender age of nine.
He won’t have to look far for any inspiration in joining the Bielsa revolution in West Yorkshire having seen fellow academy graduate Reuben Loftus-Cheek become a real success story after seeking out first-team action away from Chelsea at Crystal Palace.
That resulted in an England call-up, Baker’s first proper break in English football is yet to come. A spell under the main hailed as the “best coach in the world”, by Manchester City’s title-winning boss, Pep Guardiola, could well be the making of Baker and many of the younger players on United’s books, especially with Bielsa’s brilliance at the moulding of young minds.
Bielsa’s arrival screams ambition with the riches of Premier League football waiting, but despite being linked with the likes of Matej Vydra, David Stockdale, Angus Gunn, Abel Hernandez and now Baker, United have yet to get a deal over the line.
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has joined Frank Lampard at Derby County after being appointed as the club’s new goalkeeping coach.
Chris Jones has moved from Chelsea as first-team coach to work with manager Lampard, and Manchester City’s Stephen Rands has moved to Pride Park as head of performance.
The role will be 42-year-old Given’s first in coaching since he ended his 23-year playing career.
Lampard told the club’s official site: “I know Shay and his standing in the game as a goalkeeper and he’s right up there at the very top.
“He’s had many, years as a top goalkeeper.
“Performance wise he was incredible and he has now achieved his goalkeeper coaching licence.
“I’m very pleased to have Shay as part of the team.”