Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa makes declaration on Tyler Roberts future and evaluates 'demands' for signings

Marcelo Bielsa has made a declaration on the future of Leeds United forward Tyler Roberts and provided a lengthy evaluation on "demands" to strengthen the Whites squad.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 27th November 2021, 11:13 am
Updated Saturday, 27th November 2021, 11:14 am

Roberts has had spells in and out of the Whites side as a starter since joining Leeds from West Brom in January 2018, the Wales international joining United on a four-and-a-half year deal.

The forward then penned a new three-year contract in the summer but the 22-year-old has made just the one league start so far this season and began last weekend's clash at Tottenham from the bench despite the absence of three of United attacking stars in Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo and Raphinha.

Rapidly progressing 19-year-old England youth international Joe Gellhardt instead started upfront, flanked by Dan James and Jack Harrison on the wings and with Mateusz Klich in the no 10 role.

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SUPPORT: Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, left, with Tyler Roberts, centre, during the Premier League clash at Liverpool back in September 2020. Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Roberts was eventually brought on with 18 minutes left for Adam Forshaw as Bielsa made continued tactical reshuffles and the Whites boss now has Raphinha and Rodrigo back available for Saturday evening's Premier League clash at Brighton.

The lack of involvement for Roberts has prompted questions about the forward's future - particularly with the attacker looking to help Wales book a World Cup place - but Bielsa says he will stand by Roberts whilst ever he wants to stay at the club.

Asked if he would allow Roberts to leave in January if he was interested in doing so or if that would leave the Whites squad too short, Bielsa produced a long and measured answer, saying: “With respect to if we are missing players or if the squad is short or small, I have the impression, we would have to value if the team really needed signings and if the design of the group was badly calculated in function of the injuries that were produced.

"When you add players to have a bigger group it decreases the possibilities to come into the first team.

"If you have more players for the same need, there are less minutes for the players so I look over the decisions that I make.

"When Shackleton has been the alternative to Ayling when he hasn’t been there I think when he played it has been valued.

"Pascal has been the alternative when Firpo and Dallas have not been available at left back and in the last two games he has shown that he deserved that trust.

"When Llorente has been missing, Cresswell and Ayling have given positive responses.

"Of course, when I make these observations I always measure what the public thought, what you guys thought of their performances, the same when Cooper has been missing and Pascal had to play.

"In the last games, Forshaw and Pascal have been the alternatives when Phillips hasn’t been there and have been satisfactory.

"In a need to replace Klich, Forshaw and Dallas have done this in a good way also, the patience that Rodrigo needed has bared through and we found in him an offensive midfielder that is solid.

"In the absence of Bamford, James has continuously given better performances in that position and not to have brought in more players has allowed Gelhardt to express himself and the absences of Raphinha and Harrison have been covered by Summerville and James and always with the acceptance of the public and the media.

"So I try to see if we really have to adhere to these demands for signings or if to keep the same players and to have patience because it allows James to consolidate himself, for Gelhardt to find the space, that Summerville can have the same process as Gelhardt, managing that Forshaw has a constant presence in the team once again, allowing for Rodrigo as a 9 or a 10 to show his qualities, being able to allow Ayling to play well as a centre back and Dallas as a left full back, capitalising on Pascal as an important player and Shackleton.

"I am not the owner of the truth, nor am I immovable in my point of view.

"But there are messages that I need to know how to interpret and for that reason I evaluate the decisions that I make, without this having been just my decision I always give an example that is there that when such a young player came as an alternative for Casilla who came from Real Madrid it was also a question mark so of course there are players with more entity.

"But it is also true that the contributions of Shackleton, Pascal, Cresswell, Forshaw coming back, Summerville, Gelhardt, that if we had a squad with more players, these options that have consolidated the group wouldn’t have been produced.

"And of course no other club can incorporate players without limits, and a club that has bought Rodrigo, that has bought James, that bought Raphinha, that bought Llorente, Firpo, Koch, there are many signings and naturally in the capital that is invested I feel completely that I have been given the resources.

"I need to put the points of correction where I think they should be so I don’t have positions that are fundamentalist and I don’t abandon them in any way but I am obliged to analyse the messages that I receive.

"Tyler is also someone who I have accompanied with, with his efforts to get into the team and whilst he continues to have that desire to fight for a place in the team then I will still want him to be here.

"It is different when a player has the desire to leave.

"When a player has a desire to leave, there is no point in trying to keep him.

"To summarise, I think the club has put enough human resources at my disposal for the results to be different.

"I can’t attribute the position in the table, nor the injuries to not having a sufficient amount of players.

"Obviously what is left is the management of the players that I have and I think that is where the focus of the attention is and everything that I have just said I have said it by giving points and arguments.”

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Thank you Laura Collins