A sort of semi-sensational story has been bequeathed unto the world after it was confirmed that Leeds United attempted to lure Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to Elland Road shortly before the Championship side hired Marcelo Bielsa as their new coach.
Those claims come from the very mouth of Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani himself, who divulged as much in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
Against all the odds, Biesla was appointed by Leeds last month and has since overseen three commanding wins from his first three league matches as head coach, though it would appear that the Argentinian was not the first big-named boss contacted vis-a-vis the vacancy.
Radrizzani started by detailing the effort it took to persuade Bielsa to take the reigns, before he was asked by Gazzetta if there were any other important names in his notebook/on his managerial shortlist:
I do not deny that I made an attempt for [Antonio] Conte, I have a weakness for him, and I would offer €20million (around £18million) too, because I was that sure promotion to the Premier League would be assured.
Then there was an interview with Ranieri, an exquisite person, who was flattered by our interest, but he declined at that moment as he is waiting for a call from Serie A.
I even spoke to [Roberto] Martinez, but there were not many options because of his agreement with Belgium.
Despite having been effectively relieved of his duties weeks before, Conte would have been still technically employed by Chelsea at the time as the two parties continued to hash out a severance package.
Radrizzani goes on to say that he is “extremely satisfied” with Bielsa and offered details of the negotiations that led to that point, in which it became abundantly apparent that every anecdote about Bielsa’s staunch, vigorous preparation you’ve ever heard is 100% true.
Everything started out almost randomly, I was in the car with (Leeds sporting director) Victor Orta, and talking about possible coaches he told me:” Bielsa would be the best, but unfortunately it’s impossible.
The following day Orta had a telephone conversation with Bielsa who, in the meantime, had already watched seven of our games in a single day.
We then flew to Buenos Aires to meet him. Over the next hours, he captured me with his own ideas. In the meantime he had studied 10 more of our matches and already knew the names and characteristics of each player, including the guys from the reserve team.
Every single man.
Incredible, though not remotely surprising in any way, shape or form.