FORMER Argentina and Chile manager Marcelo Bielsa says that he has realised a lifelong dream of working in England after becoming Leeds United’s new head coach.
United’s audacious bid to lure the hugely-respected coaching doyen, 62, one of the most famous names in world football – and a mentor to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettini – has finally come to fruition in arguably the second-tier’s all-time most high-profile managerial appointment.
Bielsa, who has previously managed the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lille in a distinguished career, has signed a two-year deal with the option of a third.
In the process, the Argentine has become the highest-paid head coach in the history of the club, with his deal believed to be worth over £2m a year.
Bielsa has previously been close to moving to England after speaking with Swansea City following the departure of former Whites chief Garry Monk in December, 2015 and being strongly linked with West Ham prior to the appointment of Slaven Bilic in June, 2015.
After several weeks of negotiations with Leeds, an agreement was finally reached on Thursday with Bielsa due to arrive in the UK next weekend ahead of starting work with Leeds players at the beginning of pre-season on Monday week.
The lure of reviving one of English football’s sleeping giants proved impossible to resist.
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, said: “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 and so when a club with Leeds United’s history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn down.
“I am excited for the challenge ahead and I look forward to collaborating with Victor (Orta), Andrea (Radrizzani) and Angus (Kinnear), as we work hard to achieve great things at this football club.”
Bielsa, rated as a visionary in terms of his coaching philosophies, becomes United’s first head coach or manager born outside of Europe.