Leeds United have confirmed Marcelo Bielsa as their new head coach on a two-year contract.
The Argentinian put pen to paper in Buenos Aires last night, ending weeks of intense negotiations and agreeing to replace Paul Heckingbottom at Elland Road.
Leeds began an ambitious bid to land Bielsa - one of the world’s most renowned and respected coaches - last month and have handed him a salary in excess of £2m, the highest sum ever paid to a manager of the club.
The 62-year-old is due to fly to England towards the end of next week and will bring a large backroom team with him as Leeds prepare for a major cultural shift at Thorp Arch.
Speaking this morning, Bielsa said: “It has always been my ambition to work in England and I have had several opportunities to do so during my career.
“However, I have always felt it was important to wait for the right project to come along and so when a club with Leeds United’s history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn
Bielsa, the former Lille, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao boss, met first with United owner Andrea Radrizzani in Argentina before holding extensive talks with director of football Victor Orta and managing director Angus Kinnear.
His two-year deal includes an option for Leeds to extend the agreement into a third season if the partnership proves successful.
His five-strong backroom team at Elland Road is set to include a number of long-time allies, including Argentinian coaches Pablo Quiroga and Diego Flores and Chilian Diego Reyes, all of whom have worked with Bielsa at other clubs. Salim Lamrani, who acted as Bielsa’s translator at Lille, is also expected to join United.
“I am excited for the challenge ahead and I look forward to collaborating with Victor, Andrea and
Angus, as we work hard to achieve great things at this football club,” Bielsa said.
Bielsa has earned a reputation as a highly innovative and volatile coach during almost 30 years in senior management.
His earliest jobs brought league titles in Argentina but his most recent post at Lille lasted for six months, ending in his sacking last December. Leeds, however, quickly installed him as their first choice after deciding to dismiss Heckingbottom after just 16 games in charge.
Radrizzani said: “He’s a coach that I have admired for many years and when the opportunity arose to bring him to Elland Road, we made it our top priority for the summer.
“Marcelo has a wealth of experience and he will use that to create a new culture and a winning
mentality at our football club.”
Bielsa had initially asked for United’s players to return to pre-season training this Monday but the protracted process of securing his signature and arranging a work permit will see the squad report back to Thorp Arch on June 25.