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Leeds United transfer news: Whites identify first-choice Marcelo Bielsa successor

Julen Lopetegui
(Image credit: PA)

Leeds have identified Julen Lopetegui as their favoured successor to Marcelo Bielsa, according to reports.

Bielsa has done a terrific job at Elland Road since his appointment in 2018, qualifying the club for the Championship play-offs in his debut season before leading them to automatic promotion last term.

Leeds have had a fine start to the current campaign too, with Saturday's 1-0 victory over Everton moving them up to 11th place in the table.

The Whites board still have complete faith in Bielsa but are beginning to put contingency plans in place should he depart.

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Bielsa, who is under contract until the end of the season, has never spent three years in charge of the same club side.

His longest stints in management have come at international level, with six years at the helm of Argentina and four in charge of Chile.

Leeds are therefore aware that Bielsa could call time on his Leeds career at the end of the campaign, even if the club enjoys a successful season.

And according to The Sun, the powers that be at Elland Road want Julen Lopetegui to succeed Bielsa if the Argentine chooses to walk away.

Lopetegui earned a reputation as one of Europe's brightest young coaches with his work at Porto, but his standing in the game took a hit with disappointing spells in charge of Spain and Real Madrid.

However, Lopetegui has again demonstrated his acumen at Sevilla, who won the Europa League under his guidance last term.

Lopetegui is under contract at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan until 2022, and Sevilla will not let him go without a fight.

But Leeds hope that the chance to work in the Premier League would appeal to the Spaniard, who came close to joining Wolves in 2016.

Nevertheless, Leeds' preferred outcome would be for Bielsa to continue in the role he has performed so well in since 2018.

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