Radrizzani's 2019 Ranieri masterplan? Is Leeds owner hedging bets over Heckingbottom?

Nantes' Italian head coach Claudio Ranieri looks on ahead of the French L1 football match between Caen (SMC) and Nantes (FCN) on February 4, 2018, at Michel d'Ornano stadium in Caen,...

Eyebrows were raised when Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani offered Paul Heckingbottom only an 18-month deal.

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Millwall and Barnsley at The Den on January 6, 2018 in London, England.

Leeds United appointed a new manager this week, hiring Paul Heckingbottom from Barnsley to replace Thomas Christiansen.

But fans expressed their surprise when Heckingbottom was only handed a 18 month deal.

Heckingbottom insists he is comfortable with the contract, but it seems that owner Andrea Radrizzani is hedging his bets, and there could be a very clear reason for this.

Andrea Radrizzani, Owner of Leeds United looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Bristol City and Leeds United at Ashton Gate on October 21, 2017 in Bristol, England.

In an interview this week Radrizzani discussed Premier League title winning boss Claudio Ranieri as his dream manager.

He told SkySports: "We needed to have a coach with personality. For a moment I thought maybe I want someone with more experience, more seasons behind him, someone like a [Claudio] Ranieri kind of manager, but he's obviously busy in France."

Well here is where Heckingbottom's contract comes in: his 18 months deal will expire at the same time Ranieri's deal with Nantes runs out.

Ranieri signed a two-year contract with the French side last summer, and while this could get extended, as could Heckingbottom's, Radrizzani appears to be keeping his options open.

Coincidence? Radrizzani has too much business savvy to write this off as merely by chance.

Nantes' Italian head coach Claudio Ranieri looks on ahead of the French L1 football match between Caen (SMC) and Nantes (FCN) on February 4, 2018, at Michel d'Ornano stadium in Caen,...

Radrizzani has reportedly tried to hire Ranieri once before, with ESPN reporting this summer that he was a top target, and the Daily Star claiming the Leeds owner made an approach.

He chose to manage Nantes, who sit a creditable fifth in Ligue 1.

The ideal scenario is that Paul Heckingbottom is a big success and can take Leeds forward into the Premier League.

But just perhaps if it does not work out, Radrizzani is leaving open the possibility for another attempt to try and convince his fellow Italian to take the Elland Road job in June 2019.

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