'He deserves all that' - Andrea Radrizzani on Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United future, Inter Milan 'interest' and former Antonio Conte plan

LEEDS United chairman Andrea Radrizzani says there is a will on both sides for Marcelo Bielsa to continue on as Whites head coach beyond the end of the current campaign.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 12:42 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st May 2021, 12:46 pm

Bielsa is five games away from completing his third year at Leeds who sit ninth in the Premier League table having finished 13th in the Championship in the season before Bielsa's arrival.

The South American initially joined the Whites on a two-year deal in June 2018 with United maintaining the right to extend or terminate the deal at the end of year one.

Radrizzani then exercised the option to extend Bielsa's contract for a second year following the club's heartache in the Championship play-offs of May 2019.

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UPDATE: From Whites chairman Andrea Radrizzani as to his and Leeds United's future plans. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Leeds then stormed to promotion as champions in Bielsa's second season at Elland Road, after which the Whites head coach signed a new one-year deal in September 2020.

Bielsa has regularly stated how much he is enjoying his role and life in Yorkshire but said last month that reports in his native country that he was about to sign a new two-year deal at Leeds were wide of the mark.

Speaking in an interview with Italian publication La Repubblica, Radrizzani said of Bielsa's future: "He will announce at the end of the season, but the will to continue together is there on both sides.

"His salary is the third or fourth in the Premier League, but he deserves all that money because of the way he transforms the culture of a club and increases its value.”

Radrizzani also revealed that he initially tried to lure former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to Elland Road before director of football Victor Orta suggested Bielsa as the ideal candidate to take the club forward

"After a first year of mistakes, in which I gambled on young coaches, I turned to Bielsa," said the Whites chairman.

"The Championship has little difference between the top 10 clubs and a high-level coach can make all the difference.

“I had tried to entice Antonio Conte first with a promotion bonus of €20 million.

"When you reach the Premier League you bring in €200m so I could afford it, but he had immediate ambitions and the facts prove his choice of Inter was a good one.

"I was in the car with my sporting director, Victor Orta, when he told me that Bielsa would be the ideal candidate.

"I told him to call him on speaker phone but he did not answer or call back that evening.

“He called the next morning to discuss the strength of our squad. During the night he had watched 10 of our matches, including some from our academy. He wanted to be prepared."

Radrazzani was also asked in the interview about any plans to acquire a new club at some point in the future - and whether that club could be from Italy.

La Repubblica pointed out to Radrizzani that Inter Milan, managed by Conte, are owned by the Suning Holdings Group and reports in the Italian media suggest that the club's owners are looking to sell.

“Yes, Or in another European country," Radrizzani said.

"I’m looking at Italy, or another European country, yes. And this time I would like a great club.

“There was nothing (in a deal for Inter), if that’s what you want to know. But an interest exists, let’s see how Suning’s plans evolve.

“On the other side, Elliott (Management Corporation) have improved the management of AC Milan, but as you say sooner or later he will sell.

"In Europe there are three clubs that have great potential for development: the two Milanese clubs and Atletico Madrid.

“For now, I want to remain here and enjoy Leeds. You know that in three years the number of academy players called up to the first team has gone from two to 16.”

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Thank you Laura Collins