Marcelo Bielsa outlines Leeds United's January transfer plans ahead of QPR clash

MARCELO BIELSA says Leeds United are on the hunt for a new winger and goalkeeper in the January transfer window but equally trusts his current group to 'finish' the Championship without new recruits.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th January 2019, 4:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 1:46 pm
REPLACE HIM: Marcelo Bielsa wants a new winger following the exit of Samu Saiz, above, with Pablo Hernandez moving from out wide to the no 10 role.
REPLACE HIM: Marcelo Bielsa wants a new winger following the exit of Samu Saiz, above, with Pablo Hernandez moving from out wide to the no 10 role.

Leeds sit top of the table after 26 games despite a season that has featured a whole raft of injuries with left back Barry Douglas set to be the latest absentee with a muscle injury.

The January transfer window provides Leeds with the opportunity to strengthen and head coach Bielsa admits he “needs” a goalkeeper to replace Jamal Blackman and another wide player to effectively replace Samu Saiz.

Blackman broke his leg when playing for United’s under-23s when set to be handed an opportunity in place of Bailey Peacock-Farrell between the sticks while Saiz has joined La Liga side Getafe on loan with a view to a permanent £6m switch next summer.

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Saiz told the club he was seeking a move back to Spain for personal reasons and Pablo Hernandez has shifted from being used out wide to a no 10 following the 27-year-old’s departure.

Bielsa said Leeds were on the look-out for replacements for both but only if the new recruits were better than what United already had with the head coach declaring confidence in his current group who sit two points clear of second-placed Norwich City and four ahead of third-placed Sheffield United.

“I don’t think that many players will come in,” said Bielsa, speaking ahead of Sunday’s third round FA Cup tie at QPR.

“And I couldn’t tell you if actually there’s a player who will come or not.

“It’s if the club can get players who are better than the ones we already have come and in the position where we suffered some injuries.

“For example Samu Saiz left, Pablo now plays as a playmaker and we need a winger.

“The injury of Jamal Blackman has not been covered by another player.

“These are the two positions that were solved at the beginning of the competition and now we’re trying to find another one.

“We can also say that at the beginning of the season Jack Clarke was not a possibility as a player, but now he is a real possibility.

“If players come, it would be better. And if nobody comes we will finish the season with the players we have and we trust all of the players we have.

“From what I know the position of the club is that if we bring a player in, it must has to a player that improves the group.”

Leeds are understood to be keen on Newcastle United shotstopper Karl Darlow as a goalkeeping option but Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has recently revealed he has no interest in selling him.

Bielsa admits the January market is a notoriously hard one to deal in and the 63-year-old said he would back his side with confidence even without further reinforcements.

The Whites head coach also paid tribute to director of football Victor Orta who is responsible for identifying and recommending potential recruits.

“Victor Orta built this team,” said Bielsa.

“Of course I gave my opinion on it but the creator of this team is Victor Orta.

“This team has a privileged position in the Championship. Clearly, he was not mistaken.

“I trust but not because it’s rational trust. I don’t trust just because we work in the same club. I trust his work. And also I trust the support that the president gives to Victor’s decisions. When the club takes decisions, the decisions are mine.

“That’s why we have to understand the mechanics. When I say this team was built by Victor Orta, but if this team doesn’t work, I will be responsible. Why do I tell you that? Because when they propose things and I accept, it’s my decision.

“So I trust Victor and the only parameter is we bring a player only if he adds value to the team, not to give an image of bringing in players.

“Because many times we take decisions as a response to fans’ demands.

“We have to listen to the fans demands and we have to give answers according to what is being asked and what does the fan ask? To make this team better and it’s not an easy thing to do, especially during the winter.

"But even if no-one comes we will have the resources to finish the season.”

Asked if there had been any interest in United’s players from other clubs, Bielsa said: “I don’t know about it.”