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Marcelo Bielsa phoned Wigan Athletic chief Gregor Rioch last week to tell him that Leeds United owe the Latics ‘everything’ for the praise Joe Gelhardt is getting, per The Telegraph.

The Whites prayed on Wigan’s financial issues as they faced administration to buy Gelhardt for £1m last year. An absolute steal for a gem Wigan viewed as one of their best prospects.

Leeds were ready to spend more on Gelhardt, but The Athletic note Wigan’s administrators only set an initial fee for the 18-year-old to leave the DW Stadium at around a mere £700k.

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Gelhardt had made his senior Wigan debut under Paul Cook the prior year, as the 2018/19 season wound down. The Liverpool-native then built a greater first-team role the following term, with 18 appearances and one goal in the Championship, albeit only starting twice.

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Bielsa kept Gelhardt to a peripheral role in the Leeds first-team following his transfer from Wigan. He only featured in eight matchday squads last season, and never got on the pitch.

But this season has seen the England U20 international make his bow, with minutes in two Carabao Cup ties and two Premier League games. He is, however, still yet to start a match.

Gelhardt’s performances have attracted praise from first-team Leeds stars and supporters, though. Kalvin Phillips and Liam Copper both reacted on social media after 63% of fans who voted named Gelhardt as the official Leeds supporters’ Man of the Match against Wolves.

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Bielsa thanks Wigan chief Rioch for Gelhardt

Gelhardt offered a lively presence during his 27-minutes against Wolves and won Leeds a 94th-minute penalty. Rodrigo converted from 12-yards out to seal the Whites a 1-1 draw.

Leeds manager Bielsa has now phoned Wigan’s Academy Manager, Rioch, to thank him for their work and time developing Gelhardt. The Argentine believes the DW Stadium side deserve recognition for the teenager’s rise, which they warmly received.

Along with breaking into the Leeds’ first-team, Gelhardt has scored six goals in seven PL2 games so far this season. He would have added to his Young Lions caps this month, too, but for an injury sustained during the Whites’ Papa John’s Trophy clash with Salford last month.