Pontus Jansson opens up on relationship with Marcelo Bielsa following Leeds United exit to Brentford

ON HIS WAY: Pontus Jansson.
ON HIS WAY: Pontus Jansson.
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PONTUS JANSSON has hailed Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa as one of the best despite a rapid exit from Elland Road to sign for Brentford.

Swedish international centre-back Jansson sealed a quickfire transfer to the Bees on Monday night with Bielsa happy to move the centre-back on ahead of his second season in charge at Elland Road.

Jansson had been given extended leave before the start of pre-season training and not required back until the middle of the month.

After a breakdown in the relationship between the club and player, Bielsa was happy for the Swede to move on with the defender having been set to miss United’s pre-season tour of Australia and training with boyhood club Malmo in a bid to keep fit during his ongoing absence.

Both Leeds and Jansson wanted a quick resolution to the situation with Brentford swiftly becoming aware of the 28-year-old’s availability and successful with a bid of £5.5m plus add ons.

By Monday night, the defender had signed a three-year deal at Griffin Park with Jansson and Bielsa’s Leeds going their separate ways.

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Jansson admitted there had been difficulties in his relationship with United’s head coach but the defender leaves knowing the talents, reputation and capabilities of Bielsa are not on doubt.

“I have always liked to have a close relationship with my coach,” said Jansson.

“Like the relationship I had with Roland Nilsson or Rikard Norling for example. That hasn’t been as easy with Bielsa and one reason for that is the language.

“I regard Bielsa very highly, as one of the absolute best coaches I have worked with. He is special, believes in his idea to the max and I have learned a lot from him.”

After completing a medical in central London on Monday afternoon, Jansson was preparing to fly out to Austria on Tuesday to join his new Bees team mates on their pre-season training camp.

But the Swede will not have long to wait before a return to Elland Road with the Bees visiting the Whites in the fourth game of the season on Wednesday, August 21.

Jansson’s exit comes just two months after Bielsa admitted the Swede had been United’s best player during the 2018-19 campaign which looked destined to end in the defender fulfilling his footballing dream of taking the Whites to the Premier League.

That dream ultimately ended in two doses of heartbreak with Leeds first missing out on an automatic promotion place in finishing third and then falling to a 4-3 loss on aggregate to Derby County in the play-offs semi-finals.

Jansson was left slumped beside the advertising boards long after the full time whistle of the second leg loss to the Rams and six weeks later his Leeds career is over.

The defender joined Leeds from Torino in August 2016 on loan before making the switch permanent the following year and signing a five-year deal.

The Swede leaves having made 120 appearances, scoring nine goals.

Giving his version of events, Jansson insists he was ultimately sold to help Leeds comply with rules over Financial Fair Play.

“Leeds needed to sell to balance the books because of FFP and they saw that they could make some money out of me,” said Jansson.

“I said to my agent [Martin Dahlin] that I wanted to stay in England when this situation arose. There have been several tempting offers from various clubs but I am happy here and have made a name for myself in this country.

“My ambition is to play in the Premier League but I didn’t want to sit and wait for the right club in the Premier League to make an offer later in the summer and let this chance [to join Brentford] pass me by.

“I felt early on that Brentford was right for me.”

Time well tell on that score - but despite the circumstances of his exit, Jansson insists he will always hold fond memories of a club he will always regard as “family”.

“I have to thank Leeds United for those three years we had there,” said Jansson.

“You took me into your hearts and have been fantastic since day one. Biggest of thanks to my team-mates that have supported me and been by my side since the first session.

“As I loved to play for the club, Leeds will always be part of me and my family. Thanks for everything and all the best in the future.”