Marcelo Bielsa on first bit of Leeds United business as Whites look to add in January transfer window

Marcelo Bielsa says Leeds United's newest arrival Mateo Joseph Fernandez must find his place in the pecking order at Thorp Arch after passing the club's 'profound analysis' to be signed.

By Graham Smyth
Friday, 7th January 2022, 3:54 pm

Marcelo Bielsa says Leeds United's newest arrival Mateo Joseph Fernandez must find his place in the pecking order at Thorp Arch after passing the club's 'profound analysis' to be signed.

The 18-year-old moved from Espanyol B earlier this week to become the Whites' first purchase of a January transfer window that could see them add another Under 23s player and at least one first team midfielder.

He fits the frame for a youth recruitment policy that has brought players of high potential to Elland Road for relatively small fees. The signings in recent years of Sam Greenwood, Cody Drameh and Joe Gelhardt have initially strengthened Mark Jackson's Under 23s and latterly given Bielsa further options for his first team.

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Gelhardt, although unavilable through injury for the next three weeks or so, is top dog among the club's young forwards and can consider himself part of the first team squad, while Greenwood will be hopeful of a first team breakthrough amid serious injury problems for Leeds in the attacking department.

The challenge for Fernandez is to disrupt the current order, once he acclimatises.

"He is a young player," said Bielsa of the new boy.

"He’s going to incorporate himself into the group just below the first team. The process of integration and development into the group will start at the level of the players his age, in the measure he goes through all those stages and showing the qualities for the reason he arrived here, competing with players of a similar age like Greenwood, Gelhardt, [Amari] Miller.

FIRST BUSINESS - Leeds United signed Mateo Joseph Fernandez from Espanyol B this week as they look to strengthen the Under 23s and first team in January. Pic: Getty

"The measure that he shows his qualities that we know he has, they will help him find a position."

Bielsa has previously gone on record to laud the work of Victor Orta's recruitment team as among the very best he's seen in his career in terms of the analysis and preparation that goes into the addition of new players.

Speaking after the close of the summer window he said: "That’s another segment of this club which functions with very high professionalism. For a long time, I have been in professional football and very few times have I seen such a well looked after world like it is here when we sign a player. Marked evolution in this work."

The signing of Fernandez is no different according to the head coach.

"Like with every young player, he comes here after a very profound analysis," he said.

"So we just hope his integration will be quick and that he overcomes the level.”

As for other new signings, Bielsa was typically tight lipped. His preference is always to address transfers when they have been made official.

"I can’t give you information because I don’t have any concrete information," he said.

"To bring in any player in any position that is a player who is better than what we have that player would be welcome."