Leeds United will be back in the Premier League in 2020-21 thanks to the hard work and persistence of Marcelo Bielsa and his players.
Having gone agonisingly close to achieving promotion in 2018-19, the Argentine cracked the code in 2019-20, guiding the Yorkshire club to an automatic elevation to English football’s top table.
However, despite the elation of the glory associated with that feat, Leeds fans are concerned that Bielsa has not yet signed a new deal with the club.
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So, will he stay or will he go? Goal takes a look at why the contract has been delayed and whether the renewal will happen at all.
Why has Marcelo Bielsa not renewed his Leeds contract?
Bielsa is an assiduous individual and prefers to take time to carefully consider all things, from preparing for a game and scouting a player to signing a new contract.
As the conclusion of the Championship season approached at the end of July, the Argentine explained, when asked about his future, that he wanted to savour the glory of promotion to the Premier League with his players, the supporters and the people of Leeds first. Then he would turn his attention towards addressing his new contract with the club.
“The sign of our times is we want to make things happen before the process requires,” the typically philosophical Bielsa told reporters ahead of the final match of the season. “Always, everybody answers, they don’t want to take the time for things to happen as they wish.”
He added: “I think the ideal is try to keep this moment as long as we can. After, naturally, this moment will go. I don’t want to put another feeling on this moment that is very special.
“Maybe I am so happy in this moment I don’t want to make this moment pass quickly.”
Leeds director Angus Kinnear vowed that negotiations would commence as soon as the season ended, indicating that they did not happen sooner because club officials did not want to risk distracting Bielsa from the task of managing the club to promotion.
“We wanted Marcelo to enjoy the moment and we’re also very conscious that he focusses incredibly diligently on the next match and he wanted to win tonight,” Kinnear told reporters after the final game against Charlton Athletic. “He wants to honour the competition, then we’ll be sitting down and having that conversation.”
Will Marcelo Bielsa sign a new Leeds deal?
The good news for fretting Leeds supporters is that Bielsa is strongly expected to put pen to paper on a new deal.
Figures at the club remain very confident that the renewal will happen, despite the delay, and believe that he is the person to lead them into their first Premier League campaign in 16 years.
“We’re having very positive talks with Marcelo daily,” Leeds director Victor Orta said in an interview with The Athletic at the beginning of August.
“We’re hoping that we’re going to be working towards the Premier League season (with him) because we’re planning a really good project there.”
Indeed, if the words of Orta do not reassure doubters, there are other positive signs that Bielsa will remain at Elland Road for the 2020-21 Premier League season.
For example, he has been seen around Leeds in recent weeks, apparently working on things such as scouting reports from his usual seats at the city’s coffee shops.
In one notable instance, he was pictured with a piece of paper that appeared to show the name of St Pauli midfielder Finn Ole Becker, suggesting that he is very much invested in a future at the club.
Furthermore, a number of the club’s new signings, such as Joe Gelhardt, have spoken in enthusiastic terms about the prospect of working with Bielsa, so all the signs point to a prolonged stay in west Yorkshire.
That said, one can never be quite sure with Bielsa, and he has been known to stick to his guns on points of principle – such as when he walked away from the Lazio job in 2016 despite agreeing to take charge.
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