Marcelo Bielsa has outlined in his pre-Southampton press conference – as per Leeds Live – what it will take to turn Leeds United into a top-six Premier League again, as they sit in 12th place ahead of Tuesday’s outing.
The Whites go into Tuesday’s match against Southampton at Elland Road having suffered defeats in their last two league games – suffering a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal before losing, somewhat harshly, 1-0 to Wolves on Friday.
But much like they did in the Championship, Leeds have a game just four days later against a Southampton side that looked more like themselves on Sunday – as Takumi Minamino scored his first Saints goal in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
Asked what it would take to see Leeds become a top-six side again, Bielsa responded by stating the integration of academy players – as well as investment in the first team – will prove crucial when it comes to climbing up the table.
“This year the club invested £100million and bought in six players,” Bielsa said. “The make up of the squad and the investment that the club makes to improve the starting XI will mark how long it will take.
“For example, if Pascal is able to make himself as a Premier League centre-back, which is what everything indicates, he is a product of the youth teams. It’s a big help to find those 18 starting players I was talking about.
“So it’s all subject to the evolution of the players who integrate the project. From this season 20-21, there are a number of corrections that are considered until you make up the 18 starting players.”
TBR’s view – What do Leeds need to emerge as a top-six candidate?
They need a defence that can give themselves the basis to attack in the way they do. Too many times this season, they have conceded goals because of mistakes at the back – though the return of Robin Koch and Diego Llorente will help.
A new left-back and a long-term replacement for Luke Ayling should be crucial. Cover for Kalvin Phillips, a Rodrigo De Paul-like midfielder and perhaps a younger Mateusz Klich should also be considered.
Another addition up front and Leeds would have a side more than capable of challenging for the top eight, with a chance of top-six. But who knows, a few wins from now until May and we could see Leeds battling for Europe.