Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa on the right striker, financial fair play, Arsenal and Eddie Nketiah
Marcelo Bielsa is satisfied that if Leeds United are unable to find the right striker in this transfer window, it won’t have been for a lack of trying.
Every effort is being made to bring in another forward, according to Bielsa, who has reiterated that the club will not sign a player for the sake of making a signing – it has to be someone who fits.
Bielsa pre-empted criticism the club could receive at the end of the window if they haven’t managed to replace Eddie Nketiah, whose recall by Arsenal still evidently rankles.
“Victor [Orta] offers players and I say if I like them or not,” said the Argentine, explaining how the recruitment process with the club’s director of football works. “It never happened that I had to say no to one player because Victor really knows which kind of player he is looking for and the characteristics of the team.
“There are a lot of things we consider in this process, how much is left, how long it will take players to adapt to the team, if the player who comes is competing or not, the economy, how much a player costs the club, and after the adaptation with his team-mates.
“If we don’t bring someone in there will be criticism. If we bring one wrong player there will be criticism that we took a bad decision.”
Southampton’s Che Adams is one striker Leeds have made offers for and would very much like to bring to Elland Road, but the proposal has been met with resistance by Saints boss Ralph Hasenhüttl. But, as Bielsa points out, even someone of Adams’ quality would require a settling in period, to become accustomed to how Leeds operate.
“We are going to try to find the right player,” said Bielsa. “We are not going to bring in a player who doesn’t fit with us just to say we’ve brought someone in. Even if we lack one more attacker, we are not going to bring someone in who doesn’t fit with the team.
“It is a difficult decision to take because the player who comes is going to be an [alternative] option to [Patrick] Bamford. The player who comes instead of [Jack] Clarke is going to compete with all our wingers. This happens in every team.
“We are not in condition to say to a player you are going to come and you are going to play the rest of the season. We know perfectly that one player who is not competing, he needs a process to compete again.
Don’t forget that everyone used to criticise Bamford until he got fit to compete. So that means supporters also value when a player is fit to compete. Do you think that one great player who is doing well in his team is going to come in here to Leeds?
“Adams was one of them, do you think he is playing regularly? Adams is not playing regularly, so if he comes of course he will need to adapt to some situations.
“For this reason, I am a little bit disappointed with the situation with Nketiah and Arsenal because we have 19 matches left, three months of the competition.”
Bielsa’s disappointment over Nketiah’s return to Arsenal, where he will now stay for the rest of the season it has been revealed, is that Leeds did all they said they would do for the player.
“I have given all the information on that point, the unfairness that was the treatment of Arsenal and Eddie Nketiah to Leeds,” he siad.
“When they chose Leeds, Leeds took an engagement to Arsenal’s decision and Nketiah’s decision and thought a lot about it. They chose us, putting away other options they had. We did everything we said we were going to do, so we have nothing to claim ourselves.
“The same with Clarke. In this moment we don’t have those two players. The club is going to do all that is possible to try to resolve this situation, always respecting the [financial fairplay] rules.
“Victor is working very hard to try to resolve this, the president [Andrea Radrizzani] supports the needs of the team. If we can resolve it better and if we cannot resolve it, it is not going to be for a lack of effort or because someone is not engaged.”