Marcelo Bielsa conceded that Leeds United had lost a “good player” in Ronaldo Vieira and said the club would need to consider signing a replacement for him after learning that Adam Forshaw would be missing for up to eight weeks through injury.
Forshaw could be sidelines for the first two months of the Championship season having being sent for surgery on a foot problem just two days after Leeds agreed to sell Vieira to Sampdoria in a £7.7m deal.
Vieira finalised his move to Serie A on Tuesday, accepting a five-year contract in Genoa, as Leeds took the surprise decision to cash in on a midfielder who had shown huge promise in stages of his short career at Elland Road.
The 20-year-old was peripheral in pre-season, used predominantly in friendlies where Bielsa fielded Under-23 players, but United’s head coach described Vieira as being “involved in the project” and said the timing of his exit to Italy was unfortunate with Forshaw now relegated to the sidelines.
“He (Vieira) was a player involved in the project,” Bielsa said. “The club decided to sell him and I adapt to this decision.
“I can’t say he is not a good player. He is a good player. If Sampdoria bought Ronaldo it indicates he is a good player. The sale of Ronaldo happens at the same time as the injury to Forshaw in a similar position but we can solve this situation. We can find solutions.”
Leeds United job was bigger than I deserved, reveals Marcelo Bielsa
Vieira’s move to Sampdoria could be worth as much as £10m to Leeds depending on add-ons and Forshaw’s injury appeared to heighten the need for another central midfielder to arrive before the permanent transfer window closes next Thursday.
“I’m not sure if another player will come in to replace Ronaldo or not,” Bielsa said. “What makes the situation more complicated is that Adam will be out for six to eight weeks. So we have to think about it.”
Forshaw was hurt in training last week and photographed wearing a protective boot during Sunday’s pre-season friendly against Las Palmas. The club revealed today that he had damaged ligaments in one foot.
The 26-year-old would almost certainly started Sunday’s first league game against Stoke City having been integral to Bielsa’s work throughput pre-season. Lewis Baker and Mateusz Klich are among the player vying to take his place.
“It’s bad news for the team because Adam is a big player but it is not very bad news because we have other solutions,” Bielsa said. “It is a bizarre injury. It's not very usual."