Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani on Whites investment, new signings, 49ers, QSI and Premier League plan

Leeds United Andrea Radrizzani was in Europe this morning for a meeting about a potential signing for next season as work begins to make the Whites Premier League ready.

Monday, 20th July 2020, 12:04 pm

The Italian wouldn't disclose his exact location on a Zoom call with the press, but did reveal that the club will need investment to be competitive in the top flight and that their recruitment will be selective this summer. Quality over quantity and a similar model to the example set by this season's most successful Premier League newboys Sheffield United is Radrizzani's preferred route.

He has allowed himself time to enjoy Leeds United's title win but with a head coach to tie down, players to sign and Elland Road facilities to improve, there's little time to bask in the glory of a Premier League return.

Having led the club back to the top the top flight for the first time in 16 years, Radrizzani is proud of the decisions he took along the way and has no plans to leave now.

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"I would do exactly everything I have done in the last three years again to enjoy this moment again," he said.

"I have done all of this, living in this league for three years, it was very hard and I'm not going anywhere. People have said I would sell in the Premier League but I have always said I would sell probably if I couldn't achieve the Premier League, but I would love to stay maybe 10 years or more. I'm not in any rush, I'm enjoying it."

In many ways, Leeds' timing is perfect. They celebrated promotion in their centenary year, after all. But the situation the world has found himself in makes life more challenging for the Whites financially, even with the boost in revenue Premier League football will bring.

"Unfortunately, we are happy, we enjoy the fantastic success but we have done it in a particular year when COVID is hitting the club financially," said the owner.

WINNERS - Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani with Pablo Hernandez after the 3-1 win at Derby, with a title and promotion already secured. Pic: Andrew Varley

"We will need additional investment to be competitive and maintain the league, that is our target to maintain our position in the Premier League. We will need to add on.

"We are already hit very badly, we probably lose £30-40m between this season and the beginning of the next. We can see the negative impact of covid in every area. The offer we had for shirt sponsorship and what we are about to confirm is 40 per cent lower. Every sports organisation is affected by this economical crisis."

Extra finance will likely be pumped into the club from Radrizzani's global investment company Aser. His partners, the financial backers of the NFL's 49ers, are yet to discuss further investment but Radrizzani is expecting them to play a more proactive role now that Leeds are in the Premier League.

"We haven't talked about that [more investment]," he said.

"They have done a good deed in investing in the club, they see their investment probably worth three and a half times higher than what they put. They are good friends, a good partner and they could bring more value in the management of the club than what has been done until now. I expect them to help us more, step up more with club management, the things they do very well in the US, on match day, with merchandise."

When it comes the long-rumoured interest from PSG owners Qatar Sports Investment, Radrizzani has nothing new to add, simply reiterating that they have a friendship and if they want to talk seriously, his door is open.

In the meantime, a budget has been set and transfer targets have been identified.

Continuity helped take Leeds up - they stuck with Marcelo Bielsa and his plan, they kept virtually the same team that came close to glory last season - and it will help again, Radrizzani believes. They will need to strengthen in certain areas, he admits, but whoever comes in must fit in with the current first team ethos.

"Quality over quantity," he said.

"We are very careful to identify the players with the right characteristics in the positions we need, that they fit the character of the players to fit in our group. We put as a priority to defend the spirit of this group that we created. You can see the players are united, it's very important we prioritise that.

“I would say we will be more similar to Sheffield United (than Aston Villa in their approach to squad-building after promotion),” he said. “It's not only about the money, it's important we keep the structure and the foundation we have built over two years.

“You don't win all the points we have in two seasons and stay in the top-three positions for two years consecutively if you don't have a good foundation and good players so I think we need to continue with that, without changing too much.

“The past has shown the teams who change too much are not succeeding often and why change if we have a good, competitive team?”

"I can't tell you where I am now but I am in a place in Europe approaching a meeting for a player for next season. I'm enjoying but I'm also enjoying working for the future.

"I have a clear vision. I need first to secure the team in the Premier League for the next three years. The first two will be the most difficult as shown by statistics, most of the club can go back in the first few years. If we stay for three years at least then we can have a very bright future and aim to be just behind the top six. That's my goal. We need to grow, we need investment, a partner I will always consider because for me the club is my priority, not myself. I want to be the leader and the custodian of this club but my priority is to bring this club to where it belongs."

It all sounds very sensible, a plan rooted in reality. But there's no dampening of the mood. Radrizzani believes Leeds may well break their transfer record in the coming weeks.

Exciting, interesting times lie ahead. A new adventure begins now.