Leeds United are once again on the hunt for a new manager this summer. Paul Heckingbottom has been given the boot, with the West Yorkshire side unimpressed by his tenure. Leeds have, it seems, already identified the man they want to take the club forward. Legendary Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa is top of the list in what would be an incredible appointment.
The attention now turns to who might Bielsa want at the club, considering the impressive list of names he has worked with. Dreams of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Ander Herrera might be a push. Then there is the likes of Fernando Llorente or Claudio Bravo. Both out of favour at English clubs, but surely too expensive for Leeds.
But one former Bielsa player who is more than available is 26-year-old defender Jon Aurtenetxe.
So why is he perfect for Leeds?
Firstly, there is his availability. The defender is a free agent after ending a one-year spell at Dundee in the Scottish Premiership.
Secondly, there is his position. The Basque is a left-back by trade. Also capable of playing at right-back, the 26-year-old was in fact Bielsa’s left-back of choice whilst manager at Athletic Bilbao.
The 2011-12 season saw the then 20-year-old talent play over 50 games as Bielsa’s go-to left-back option. He even played in the 2012 Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.
But after Bielsa left, his career went downhill. Ernesto Valverde preferred Mikel Balenziaga and the defender found himself out of favour at San Mames.
So, in 2016, he left permanently after two successful loan deals with Celta and Tenerife. He joined Mirandes in Spain’s second-tier but struggled there. Last summer he joined hometown club Amorebieta, before making the surprise switch to Scottish football.
He ended up playing 17 times for the Scottish side, but with his future clearly elsewhere, found himself out of contention toward the end of the season.
Now he is freely available, British-based and a huge favourite with Bielsa. Times have been tough recently but he remains an excellent talent. A former Spain under-21 international, who played over 50 games in one of Spanish football’s most exciting teams in recent memory, he would be a perfect solution to Leeds’ left-back issues.
If Bielsa arrives at Elland Road, it would be no surprise to see him bringing his trusted left-back with him to West Yorkshire.