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Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa looks to have performed a big U-turn on his comments from April following director of football Victor Orta’s latest transfer update.
Speaking to the press in Australia during the Yorkshire outfit’s tour down under, Orta said that the Whites; squad is getting close to completion with less than a fortnight until the new Championship season gets underway.
The Spaniard said, via Leeds Live: “We always are open in the market, but now we are 90 per cent (complete).
“90 per cent is close. Obviously it’s football. In life, all that I know is I am going to die. The rest, I am not sure.”
This suggests that the club’s summer business is close to completion, but also that Bielsa has gone back on what he said following the defeat against Wigan Athletic earlier in 2019.
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After that loss against the Latics at Elland Road – that ultimately left United with too much to do in their bid to secure an automatic promotion spot – the Argentine manager was under no illusions as to what it meant at the time, and for the upcoming campaign if they failed to go up through the play-offs.
He said, via The Yorkshire Evening Post: “Remember what I say now because you’ll be able to verify it. You won’t find a single player in our team who would be able to reproduce the same level of performance in another season because we’ve been very demanding with them.
“They’ve given everything and they have figures I’m checking all the time which show what I’m saying is true. The players won’t be able to reproduce the levels they have shown in another season.”
Those words and Leeds’ play-off failure against Derby County hinted that big squad changes were on the cards, but instead it looks as though it is largely going to be the same players involved again in 2019/20.
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Pontus Jansson may have been replaced by Ben White and Helder Costa may have arrived from Wolves, but those are the only two fresh faces with Jack Clarke returning to Elland Road following his permanent move to Tottenham Hotspur, and Jack Harrison also coming back for a second loan spell from Manchester City.
With Orta saying the squad is 90% complete, it would suggest that there might only be a couple of other new faces arriving before the window slams shut in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.
Bielsa may well be going into the season with a similar set of players then, and he will be hoping that he eats his words and that they can do better than they did last term, otherwise they will be spending yet another year at this level.