The Athletic‘s Phil Hay has revealed that Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa wanted Pontus Jansson “gone” from Elland Road.
The big Swede played 120 times for the Whites during his spell at the club before being sold to Brentford in the summer of 2019.
Hay has now shed some more light on that exit, revealing that the board put their faith in Bielsa by backing his desire to offload the centre-back.
He outlined: “Jansson was a slightly different scenario. Bielsa wanted him gone and Brentford’s offer was the only one on the table. It worked out but it has to be said that the board were anxious about selling him for £5m. They just felt they had to back Bielsa.”
Before Bielsa grew tired of Jansson, the big centre-back was a imposing figure in Leeds’ defence, dealing with everything in the air and ensuring that the Whites had a monstrous presence in their penalty box.
In fact, on Jansson’s way to earning his place in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in 2018/19, the Whites let in just 13 goals from corners and free-kicks over the campaign. The Swede was superb in the air, winning 4.9 aerial duels per game during his final season for the club.
The fact that the club backed Bielsa in making that big call to get rid of him speaks volumes of the kind of authority the Argentine possesses at Elland Road, and the kind of respect he has with the board.
Given that Bielsa had only been at the club for just over a year, getting rid of a defensive stalwart and powerhouse in Jansson understandably caused some anxiety among the hierarchy, like Hay has revealed.
However, such has the impression that the Leeds manager has made in his time in Yorkshire that the club felt they had to back him, and that’s something which will surely delight fans.
The Argentine has led Leeds back to the promised land of the Premier League, and his relationship with the club’s supporters is there for all to see – just witnessed how many sung his name at Elland Road despite the heavy defeat to Arsenal two weeks ago.
Knowing that the board will back his decision-making no matter what should be very reassuring to Leeds fans regarding the direction in which the club is going.