Victor Orta on Leeds United's battle with FFP and keeping Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road

Leeds United’s sporting director Victor Orta believes that Birmingham City’s points deduction last term has served as a warning to the Championship.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 8:38 am
Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani (L), Victor Orta (M) and Angus Kinnear (R).

The Blues were handed a nine-point penalty for breaching the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules, which allow clubs in the second tier to incur a loss of no more than £39million over a three-year assessed period.

United have set their aim this summer on high-quality loan deals from the Premier League, with the sale of Thorp Arch academy product Jack Clarke – though he’ll return to the club on loan – used to finance bolstering Marcelo Bielsa’s squad.

The Whites also hope to land Wolves winger Helder Costa, and Orta, who has been in charge of United’s recruitment since 2017, believes that teams are facing a new challenge in the market under the imposed regulations.

“It’s true there’s a new scenario in the Championship,” Orta said, “after what happened last season with Birmingham and the deduction of points.

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“Now there’s tough regulations in Financial Fair Play and all the teams need to be creative. Now the financial situation is all that people monitor and we need to have responsibility in terms of the new regulations.

“This is the situation: we need to be creative, we need to build a squad with the principal targets and perhaps the idea quality is better than quantity, in my opinion, in this transfer market.”

United earlier this week announced their first summer Elland Road arrivals, as Manchester City winger Jack Harrison rejoined the club on loan alongside Brighton defender Ben White.

Clarke, who enjoyed his breakthrough season last term, has been the only notable ‘departure’ so far. The re-signing, though, of head coach Bielsa for another campaign in the Championship was perhaps Orta’s biggest piece of business to date.

The Argentine helped Leeds to a third-placed finish in the second division, before seeing his side fall short at the final hurdle in the play-offs as their hunt for the Premier League faltered in the final stages.

“There are a lot of examples in the past – [David] Wagner, Aitor Karanka, a lot of foreign coaches that in the second year were really successful,” Orta continued.

“We arrive with Marcelo Bielsa, one of the best coaches in the world, with this new methodology. It’s really different than what we are used to in this country. It needs time to introduce the methodology.

"After one year he broke all the records. He made an amazing season with the team. And now we want to use our weapon as continuity. That can be the best strategy for the Championship this year.

“I think there are a lot of changes in another year for other clubs. With Marcelo, the continuity for me can be one of the keys in the possibility of the fight for promotion.

“Now, the time to establish the new methodology is nothing. Ninety to 95 per cent of the squad know that and only the new players need to adapt, this is more easy.”

Leeds are also hopeful that a similar train of thought can be applied to Harrison, a winger who spent last season on loan with the Whites. The 22-year-old made 42 appearances under Bielsa during his first full year in English football, bagging four goals and three assists.

The City loanee, though, divided opinion amongst fans, despite displaying better form towards the end of the campaign.

“In football the second year of the players are really important,” Orta added.

“If you analyse always the first year you can make a big impact. But then when you know your team-mates and the city. It’s true that Jack arrived six months before at Middlesbrough. It was a direct situation from MLS to the Championship. That, in my opinion, is a big step in terms of adaptation and football.

"Now, Jack showed in the last part of the season the real Jack Harrison.

“We will try and find the last part of the season for Harrison to make in one year. He’s a player who is in constant growth. He’s a player that understands our style. His quality can be the difference in the Championship.

“He needs time. He’ll get time, but now, for me, this season is to try and know his real level and he can show that with us. He has all the skills to be an important player in the Championship.”

Seagulls defender White has also linked up with United for the coming year, a man Orta has been tracking for quite some time.

The 21-year-old defender has spent spells in the Football League with Newport County and Peterborough United, which Orta believes will stand him in good stead for the rigours of the Championship.

“It’s difficult to find a centre-back with his quality with the ball, he said, “ and his experience and his age, in League Two and League One. A professional player is always passing the challenges in his career. I think he’s ready for the challenge now.

“We are really happy because if for two years you monitor a player, and then for it to happen, it shows the effective work in the scouting department.

“We are really happy because it’s a player that in the end can show in Leeds his brand of football. The most important situation is a proper fit for the style that we are playing and the manager Marcelo Bielsa.”