Marcelo Bielsa admitted today that he expected January to pass without any major signings at Leeds United, saying he “didn’t see the need to bring new players in now.”
The club’s head coach all but ruled out outfield additions during next month’s transfer window despite the relentless string of injuries at Elland Road and a glaring opportunity to win promotion in his first season in charge.
Leeds sit second in the Championship after 20 games and have six more matches, beginning with Saturday’s home meeting with Queens Park Rangers, before the January market officially opens.
The club are likely to bring in a goalkeeper to compete with Bailey Peacock-Farrell after losing on-loan Chelsea player Jamal Blackman to a broken leg last month but Bielsa warned that transfers which would make a material difference to his team were “not easily available”.
Leeds are maintaining their strong league position despite an long run of injury problems, the latest affecting captain Liam Cooper and wing-back Stuart Dallas.
Cooper is out for up to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery in Rome on Wednesday while Dallas will miss a similar period of the season with a fractured foot.
Defenders Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi have been absent for a month while Izzy Brown and Patrick Bamford are almost ready to return from long-term knee injuries but Bielsa, who has used academy players to fill gaps in his line-up, said he had faith in his existing squad to see out the campaign.
“I’m very happy with and the players Victor Orta (United’s director of football) brought to the club,” Bielsa said. “I don’t see the need to bring any other player in now.
“If it’s a player better than the ones we have then I would agree with the fact that he comes but I know how expensive that could be. And when a new player comes he doesn’t have the same advantage as the ones who are already present. He has to adapt to the team, the style of work, the city and the club.
“For the second part of the season, when you buy a player it has an impact on the club’s finances because the big players are not easily available. Apart from a situation where the team needs someone and the possibility of having a player is clear, we won’t buy anyone.
“I prefer instead to improve the quality of the work here. A team usually reflects the quality of the players’ individualities but it’s also linked to the training they receive.”
Bielsa oversaw just six arrivals in the summer window and rejected the chance to take an emergency keeper last month after losing both Blackman and Peacock-Farrell to injury, preferring to rely on academy youngster Will Huffer instead.
The Argentinian, who is trying to end Leeds’ 15-year exile from the Premier League, said it would take a “great player” to arrive at Elland Road next month and fit seamlessly into his side.
“The only difference regarding the style of play is when you buy a great player,” he said. “The great players can go into any team without any difficulty but these kinds of players are not very common and very expensive. Clubs don’t want to sell these kinds of players.
“When you have an injury you can buy a player. But actually the goal is to buy a player who can improve the level of the team.”
Asked if a new keeper was a necessary requirement in the wake of Blackman’s return to Chelsea, Bielsa said: “In football what is possible doesn’t always become a reality. I prefer to be sure about what I’m saying and I can’t be sure about buying a goalkeeper, even if we take into account losing a great keeper like Blackman.”