It has been a roller-coaster of a year to be a Leeds United fan, hasn’t it?
After seeing their side finish in a disappointing 13th position last season, the decision by chairman Andrea Radrizzani to appoint Marcelo Bielsa as the club’s new manager ahead of the 2018/19 campaign raised eyebrows across Europe.
Although the Argentine had achieved success with the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Chile in recent years, the fact that he had no previous experience of working in English football would have been concerning for some supporters.
However, following a fantastic start to his tenure in which Leeds won five of their opening eight Championship fixtures, it was clear that Bielsa had already won over the trust of his players and so it was of little surprise that the Yorkshire-based outfit stormed to the top of the league standings.
Yet despite looking almost certain to secure automatic promotion ahead of rivals Sheffield United, a dreadful end to the campaign culminated in the Whites having to settle for a third-place finish and a place in the play-offs.
Having led his side to a crucial 1-0 victory in the first leg of their semi-final clash with Derby County on Saturday, Bielsa will be hoping to use this result as momentum for the return fixture on Wednesday.
If Leeds do overcome the Rams at Elland Road, they will almost certainly have to call upon Kalvin Phillips to step up to the mark once again. The midfielder has been exceptional this season and delivered a titanic performance at Pride Park to keep the likes of Mason Mount, Tom Lawrence and Harry Wilson quiet.
Undeniably set for stardom in the future, Phillips will be hoping that he can experience Premier League football with the club who handed him his professional debut in 2015. Yet in order to continue his development as a player, the 23-year-old will need to be given sufficient game time by Bielsa over the coming years.
Therefore, for the sake of Phillips’ career, the former Marseille boss should resist the temptation to bring in one of his former players this summer.
According to El Gol Digital, the Whites are reportedly interested in bringing in Ander Iturraspe on a free transfer from Bilbao when his current deal at the Basque club runs out next month.
Although the Spanish midfielder does hold the advantage of playing a greater number of games when compared to Phillips, it could be argued that the Leeds ace is already a better player than him.
Therefore, if he does indeed join the club when the transfer window opens in July, Iturraspe could find himself watching on from the sidelines for a second consecutive season having made just three La Liga appearances for Bilbao this year.
What do you think Leeds fans? Would signing Iturraspe help or hinder Phillips’ career? How impressed have you been with Bielsa since his arrival at the club last June? Let us know below.
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