Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

If you asked you to pick one word that would best describe Marcelo Bielsa, we’d imagine that you’d choose something like ‘obsessive’, ‘meticulous’ or ‘enigmatic’.

Perhaps even ‘genius’.

But there’s one part of Bielsa’s management that often goes unnoticed; his patience. 

Leeds United’s beguiling, bucket-perching head coach refused to bow down to fan pressure during the opening few weeks of the 2019/20 campaign, throwing his weigh behind a struggling Patrick Bamford as chants of ‘Eddie’ reigned down from the Elland Road stands. 

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Less than two years later, Bamford was trotting onto the hallowed Wembley turf for his England debut, a first ever Three Lions appearance a fitting reward on the back of 17 Premier League goals.  

Jack Harrison, too, received Bielsa’s backing when form deserted him in the Championship. So did Liam Cooper and Gianni Alioski.

And while some would argue that Bielsa’s patience can go too far – see Helder Costa and arguably Tyler Roberts too – the former Argentina, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao coach is always willing to give under-fire players the chance to prove those doubters wrong. 

Junior Firpo, then, is not going to be frozen out of the first-team picture just four months into his Leeds United career, even if the former Barcelona left-back has found fitness and form hard to come by in West Yorkshire. 

But with Firpo’s sluggish start to life on English soil once again highlighting a worrying lack of depth available to Bielsa in a key position – Stuart Dallas is arguably the only player capable of filling in on the left flank – clamour is growing for a Leeds side with just two wins from their opening 12 Premier League games to make good use of the upcoming January transfer window. 

Leeds United or Aston Villa for Borna Sosa?

“The most important thing for him is to make a transfer to England because he has an offer from Leeds. Some other clubs from the Premier League are also interested,” the agent of Stuttgart flyer Borna Sosa told Sportske Novosti back in May. 

Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

“Only the English can pay as much as Stuttgart is asking. I estimate it will be about 20 million euros (£18 million).”   

Whether Leeds still have Sosa on their wishlist is anyone’s guess at this stage. But when Bielsa finds a player he likes, he usually doesn’t forget about them in a hurry – see Dan James, Ryan KentJohn Swift. 

It is understood that Aston Villa, who are prioritising a new left-back following the appointment of Steven Gerrard, have 23-year-old Sosa in their sights too. One of the best crossers of a ball in European football, Croatia’s answer to David Beckham has produced 14 assists since the start of the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign. 

With Leeds treading water, injuries and a loss of form breaching Bielsa’s previously impenetrable hull, acing the January window could be the difference between a third season in the Premier League and those dreaded Tuesday night trips to Preston, Bristol and Luton.

Sosa’s deadly left-footed deliveries would give a Leeds side over-reliant on the rampaging Raphinha a different dimension in the final third, while filling an Alioski-shaped hole in Bielsa’s XI.

Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

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