LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that he plans to trim down the club’s squad – but has ruled out bringing in a raft of new signings.
The former Argentina and Chile manager, 62, who has signed a two-year deal with United – with the option of a third season – held his opening press conference in England yesterday afternoon after earlier meeting with the club’s players for the first time at Thorp Arch.
Bielsa has already viewed extensive video footage of the players he has inherited and says that he has made decisions on which players will be in his plans next season.
Equally he has appreciated the need to observe his squad at close quarters to crystallise those judgments.
Bielsa, who has become United’s 11th manager/head coach in six seasons and will be the eighth different name to take charge at the start of a new season, also expressed his belief that he has the nucleus of a squad that he can work with, albeit with some additions in key areas.
Leeds have been linked with a number of arrivals, including Derby striker Matej Vydra, ex-Hull City forward Abel Hernandez and Bournemouth frontman Lewis Grabban.
On the outgoing front the only departures so far have been goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald and midfielder Madger Gomes.
Bielsa said: “The club generally have 15 players who you might consider more than we need, and we still need four or five different positions where we need to strengthen.
“Moving forward the squad to my mind should not be too numerous and have too many players not getting game time.
“For anyone leaving it would be more to do with the fact I like a trimmed-down squad so everyone gets regular game time.
“I have seen all 51 games that Leeds United played last season and the two friendlies in Asia. So I have opinions in my head and I have made my mind up about all the players.
“But I have not had that day-to-day contact with them that the club have enjoyed.”
Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has hinted that Bielsa turned down offers to manage several other club sides and international teams to head to Elland Road after being handed a wide encompassing brief to ‘change the mentality’ of the club .
“Marcelo has chosen us, despite other options, maybe even in higher level leagues and national teams,” he said.
“He has decided to chase the dream of getting Leeds United back in Premier League.”
Profile of Bielsa: Page 19.