Leeds United said they had landed the “outstanding candidate” in their search for a first-team boss after appointing former APOEL manager Thomas Christiansen as their new head coach.
Leeds shook hands on a deal with Christiansen this afternoon, securing a replacement for Garry Monk and ending their three-week hunt.
Christiansen was approached for talks by United owner Andrea Radrizzani after guiding Cypriot club APOEL to the last 16 of the Europa League this season.
The 44-year-old, whose playing career started at Barcelona, parted company with APOEL on May 25, the same day that Monk resigned as Leeds head coach.
APOEL chose not to renew Christiansen’s 12-month contract despite him taking his squad into the Europa League’s knockout stages and winning Cyprus’ first division title.
His players topped their Europa League group ahead of Olympiacos and reached the last 16 for the first time in the club’s history after beating Athletic Bilbao over two legs before eventually losing to Anderlecht.
We wanted to appoint someone who can help us create a winning culture at the club and unite everyone connected with Leeds UnitedLeeds United managing director Angus Kinnear.
APOEL released him in the wake of a defeat to Apollon Limassol in the national cup final.
Christiansen’s only previous management job was a two-year stint at another Cypriot club, AEK Larnaca, between 2014 and 2016 but Radrizzani moved to name him as Monk’s successor after interviewing Christiansen in Madrid at the start of this week.
Sources in Denmark say he was considered for the Olympiacos job prior to Leeds inviting him to Madrid for negotiations with Radrizzani.
United managing director Angus Kinnear said: “We are delighted to make this announcement as it successfully concludes what has been a thorough and extensive search following a huge level of interest from all over the football world.
“We wanted to appoint someone who can help us create a winning culture at the club and unite everyone connected with Leeds United, from the players to the supporters, ultimately taking the club back to where we all feel we belong.
“Thomas was someone who had been on our radar from the very early stages of the process and quickly established himself as the outstanding candidate.
“We are confident we have found a man with who can work with us to take the club to the next level.”
Leeds have not confirmed the length of Christiansen’s contract at Elland Road but Kinnear described the appointment as “long term” and it is believed to exceed the 12-month rolling deal held by Monk.
United have been without a first-team boss since Monk unexpectedly quit from his post two days after Radrizzani completed his takeover of United.
Radrizzani identified Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner and Reading’s Jaap Stam as candidates for the job but Huddersfield’s promotion to the Premier League ruled Wagner out of the running and Stam is expected to extend his contract at Reading in the coming weeks.
Leeds also made contact with Victor Sanchez, who left Real Betis recently, but sources at Elland Road say Christiansen was part of Radrizzani’s initial list of options.
Radrizzani has revised the structure of Leeds’ management team by recruiting ex-Middlesbrough head of recruitment Victor Orta as director of football and recruiting former Real Madrid employee Ivan Bravo as a board member and advisor.
Leeds have now added Christiansen to that structure, appointing him ahead of the squad’s planned return for pre-season tests next Friday.
The club are yet to finalise Christiansen’s staff with Monk’s backroom team - assistant Pep Clotet, first-team coach James Beattie and goalkeeping coach Darryl Flahavan - still on the books and under contract until June 30. Beattie is expected to join Monk at Middlesbrough shortly.
Christiansen - Denmark-born but capped by Spain twice in 1993 - enjoyed a lengthy career as a striker, starting out at Barcelona before moving to Villarreal, Racing Santander and Hannover.