Lionel Messi has reportedly expressed his interest in having Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa as the new manager of Barcelona after a disappointing second-place finish in La Liga last season.
Bielsa led Leeds United back into the Premier League for the 2020/21 campaign with a Championship title win, ending a 16-year-long wait. But the Argentine tactician is yet to sign a new contract at Elland Road.
The 65-year-old’s existing deal with Leeds is due to expire next week, and according to The Sun, Messi has urged Barcelona to bring the former Athletic Bilbao manager back in Spain.
After being appointed mid-season as the head coach of the Catalan club, Quique Setien is under pressure of losing his job after conceding the domestic league title to rivals Real Madrid by five points.
According to The Sun, Barcelona are yet to make contact with Bielsa’s representatives but the threat of a move “will set alarm bells ringing at Elland Road”.
Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, on the other hand, believes that the Argentine coach will need no persuasion to extend his deal at the club.
“It’s on merit for him to be here and he deserves it. I think it’s an honour for Marcelo as for any other coach to be in charge of a club like Leeds United in the Premier League,” said Radrizzani.
“So, at the end, we don’t have to persuade anyone to stay at our club. It’s on merit and ambition because it’s a big club,” he added.
Bielsa, who has been a mentor to Pep Guardiola in the past, has the experience of managing in La Liga, taking charge of Espanyol in 1998 before leading Athletic Bilbao between 2011 and 2013.
Barcelona will take on Napoli in the second leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League clash on August 8 with the tie delicately poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Italy.