Leeds United have ended doubts over Marcelo Bielsa’s future by confirming that the Argentinian will remain as head coach next season.
The Elland Road club finalised a 12-month extension to Bielsa’s contract this morning after an intense week of talks.
Leeds held an option giving them the right to renew the deal signed by Bielsa when he took over last summer but the club were under pressure to finalise discussions with the 63-year-old before the clause expired at the end of this month.
Bielsa indicated at the end of the Championship season that he was keen to remain in charge, despite the club’s defeat in the play-off semi-finals, but sought assurances over United’s plans for the summer before committing himself to another promotion bid.
His original deal involved a gentleman’s agreement allowing Bielsa to quit Elland Road after a year in the post if he no longer felt happy to stay.
Leeds, however, were determined not to lose a manager who took them from a mid-table finish last season to the brink of a place in the Premier League.
United missed out on a top-two Championship finish in the final month of the term and were beaten by Derby County in the semi-finals of the play-offs.
Chairman Andrea Radrizzani, who this week rejected claims that he was considering selling Leeds to an investment group from Qatar, said he and Bielsa had “unfinished business”.
“As the dust settles on the campaign, I can reflect and say it was a good season,” a statement from Radrizzani read. “I’d like to thank all fans, staff and friends related to Leeds United for their continued support.
“We were close and next season we will work harder to achieve our goal. So let’s have another go. I’m delighted that Marcelo has agreed for another year - we have unfinished business.
“Enjoy your summer and next year once again we all need to give more - the players, the staff and all the fans because our goal is close.”
Bielsa has cut a hugely popular figure, both with the hierarchy at Elland Road and amongst Leeds’ support. His appointment last June brought him to England for the first time, almost 30 years into his coaching career.
Leeds have committed to further changes to their training ground at Thorp Arch, including the installation of a 1km running track requested by Bielsa, and are ready to meet his demands in the transfer market.