Bielsa has been lined up by Athletic Club presidential candidate Iñaki Arechabaleta as a prospective replacement departing head coach Marcelino García Toral. The club's presidential election takes place this week and reports that Bielsa had agreed to take charge in the event of a win for Arechabaleta have now been confirmed by Spanish media outlet El Chiringuito TV, who have spoken with the Argentine.
"In the month of March I had contact with Iñaki Arechabaleta, he proposed this possibility to me," they quote the 66-year-old as saying.
Bielsa has revealed to El Chiringuito that he initially believed the best course of action for Athletic Club was to stick with Marcelino, but news that the former Valencia boss was stepping down at the end of June changed his mind.
“It is a great responsibility to be Athletic Club’s coach," he said.
"I needed some time to give him an answer. I told Arechabaleta that the best thing was for Marcelino to continue because he had room for growth. Finally, after Marcelino’s decision I began to think about giving him a positive answer."
Bielsa managed the club from August 2011 to June 2013, leading them to the finals of both the Europa League and Copa del Rey. He can see similarities between the squad in place at San Mamés stadium and the one he managed previously, one that included the likes of Ander Herrera and Fernando Llorente.
“The quality of this team is comparable to what it was ten years ago," he said.
"It makes me dream to join a group that can try to have a version of a similar level to that of 2011-2013.”
Bielsa gave a live presentation, in Spanish, on the prospect of coaching Athletic Club Bilbao, as part of Arechabaleta's campaign for the election on June 24. The ex-Chile and Argentina head coach included information on the job he did at Elland Road as part of the presentation. You can view the presentation HERE.
In his three and a half years at Leeds Bielsa came close to promotion to the Premier League, secured it in his second season along with a Championship title and then led the club to a top-half finish in the Premier League. He was sacked in February with Leeds involved in a relegation fight and replaced by American Jesse Marsch. The Whites escaped the drop on the final day of the season with a win over Brentford.