Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani has warned of a “difficult” transfer window ahead as he and the club work towards finalising a deal to keep Marcelo Bielsa as head coach.
United and Bielsa are continuing to make positive progress in talks over a second season in charge, but Radrizzani expects a challenging summer market after a narrow failure to win promotion.
Leeds were denied a place in the Premier League and a huge cash windfall after losing their grip of an automatic place in the final month of the season and succumbing to Derby County in the play-off semi-finals.
The club, who lost £4.3m over the course of last season and are expecting to post a bigger deficit for the 2018-19 campaign, are facing a 16th successive term in the English Football League on the back of last week’s loss to Derby.
United will attempt to make alterations to Bielsa’s existing squad and remain confident of reaching an agreement to extend the Argentinian’s contract after productive discussions in the past week.
Leeds hold an option to renew Bielsa’s deal for another 12 months, but will only move to retain him if Bielsa is happy to stay.
United’s first two transfer windows under Radrizzani’s ownership relied on cash injections via the sale of players like Chris Wood and Ronaldo Vieira and a £10m equity deal struck with the investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers a year ago.
The club’s recruitment team are likely to focus heavily on the Premier League loan market again in the hope that temporary deals will make more of an impact next term than they did in Bielsa’s first campaign as head coach.
Lewis Baker, Jamal Blackman, Izzy Brown and Jack Harrison all arrived on loan from the top flight, but only Harrison featured regularly in a campaign that saw Leeds finish third. Bielsa relied on a number of academy products amid a constant stream of injuries and will make use of the development squad again if his deal is extended.
Speaking at the FT Business in Football Summit, Radrizzani said: “We’ll have to run a difficult summer in terms of the transfer market, but we have a great academy.”
Leeds are aiming to tie up a deal to keep Bielsa on board before he heads home with his family for a holiday in Argentina.