Leeds United confirm appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as head coach

Leeds United have confirmed the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as their new head coach on an initial two-year contract. Bielsa, whose last managerial role with Lille ended in December 2017, has agreed a contract until 2020, with the option of extending it by a further year. He replaces Paul Heckingbottom, who was sacked this month.

“I am delighted to accept the role,” Bielsa told the club’s website. “It has always been my ambition to work in England and I have had several opportunities to do so during my career, however I have always felt it was important to wait for the right project to come along.

“When a club with Leeds’ history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn down. I am excited for the challenge ahead as we work hard to achieve great things.”

The 62-year-old’s storied managerial career has now taken in six different domestic leagues, with the coach leading two national sides at World Cups – Chile in 2010 and his native Argentina in 2002. Bielsa also won Olympic gold with Argentina in 2004, and memorably led a free-flowing Athletic Bilbao side to the Europa League final in 2013.

His tactical innovations have earned praise from Pep Guardiola, who has described Bielsa as “the best coach in the world”. The Argentinian’s record since leaving Bilbao has been mixed, however.

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After a successful first season with Marseille, he left the club after losing the opening game of the 2015-16 campaign. He joined Lazio the following summer but resigned after only two days, before an ill-fated spell at Lille last season. The club narrowly avoided relegation from Ligue 1 after his departure.

Andrea Radrizzani, the Leeds chairman, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Marcelo and his staff. He is a coach that I have admired for many years and when the opportunity arose to bring him here, we made it our top priority. Marcelo has a wealth of experience and he will use that to create a new culture and a winning mentality at our football club.”

Bielsa fits Leeds’ stated aim to bring in an experienced coach, after a run of unsuccessful appointments. He is their 11th manager since 2012, and will reportedly earn £2m per year, making him their highest-paid manager.

Leeds United managers since 2012

Marcelo Bielsa’s last two managerial appointments – at Lazio and Lille – lasted just 15 games in total, and he Leeds’s 11th manager since Simon Grayson departed in 2012.

Neil Warnock: February 2012 – April 2013
Brian McDermott: April 2013 – June 2014
Dave Hockaday: July 2014 – August 2014
Darko Milanic: September 2014 – October 2014
Neil Redfearn: November 2014 – June 2015
Uwe Rösler: July 2015 – October 2015
Steve Evans: October 2015 – May 2016
Garry Monk: June 2016 – May 2017
Thomas Christiansen: June 2017 – February 2018
Paul Heckingbottom: February 2018 – June 2018
Marcelo Bielsa: June 2018 – ?

Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA
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