Bielsa edging closer to Athletic Bilbao return as presidential candidate vows to appoint former Leeds boss

By Sports Desk June 20, 2022

Athletic Bilbao will appoint Marcelo Bielsa as their new coach if Inaki Arechabaleta becomes the club's new president following the club's elections on June 24th.

Bielsa previously coached Athletic between 2011 and 2013, and led the Basque side to the finals of the Europa League and Copa del Rey in his first season in charge.

Athletic lost both matches, however – to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively – and a disappointing season in 2012-13 hindered by the loss of key midfielder Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente's desire to leave the club resulted in Bielsa leaving.

The enigmatic 66-year-old has been out of work since he was dismissed by Leeds United in February, after three-and-a-half years at Elland Road.

Bielsa remains a fan favourite with the Leeds faithful, with the Argentine having guided the Whites to promotion in 2019-20 and a ninth-place finish in the Premier League in 2020-21, with his full-throttle, high-pressing style garnering plenty of praise.

 

Leeds ultimately made the decision to replace Bielsa with Jesse Marsch as a relegation scrap loomed, and they only stayed up on the final day of the Premier League season thanks to a 2-1 victory at Brentford.

Now, Bielsa looks set to return to management with Athletic, should presidential candidate Arechabaleta be voted in.

Arechabaleta is one of three candidates running to replace Aitor Elizegi, and on Monday told a news conference that Bielsa was his choice to replace Marcelino, who left Athletic after the expiration of his contract.

"[Bielsa] is the most respected coach in the world. He is also a coach for the future, although in the past he gave us the best season of this century," he said, as reported by The Athletic.

"He has evolved since then and his ambition, quality and abilities are going to take us to the Athletic that we must become."

Bielsa has confirmed he will take the job should Arechabaleta be installed as president.

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