Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri, Roberto Martinez were Leeds targets before Marcelo Bielsa, owner claims
Leeds United's owner Andrea Radrizzani says he considered Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Roberto Martinez before appointing Marcelo Bielsa as head coach of the Championship side in the summer.
Radrizzani took full control of Leeds in May 2017 and he says he has plans for them to return to the Premier League within the next three to four years, which is why he had such an illustrious list of names to work with as he sought a new coach in the summer.
"Conte [was on the list] and with him, we would have been certain of promotion to the Premier League," Radrizzani told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I would even have offered him €20 million.
"Then I interviewed [Claudio] Ranieri who was attracted by our interest, but declined as he was waiting for a call from a top-flight club. I even spoke to [Roberto] Martinez, but Belgium were an obstacle."
Radrizzani then turned to Bielsa, and was warned it would be "impossible" to convince him to join Leeds.
"At the end of May, I spoke with our director of football [Victor] Orta and he said Bielsa would be ideal, but that it would be impossible [to get him]. Those words just motivated me even more and we negotiated for a few days then reached an agreement at £3m, which he shares with his staff, and a one year plus one year option as duration.
"We finished negotiations after ten hours of conversation in Buenos Aires. He'd studied 20 of our games and already knew all the players, including the youngsters.
"It seemed impossible to get him here, but he's our top player. We are a Premier League club, and even more so with him."
Radrizzani added that if Leeds do not return to the Premier League soon, he will consider a return to Italy, where he was already close to buying Sampdoria, and had been linked with AC Milan before they changed ownership in April 2017.
"Two years ago I wanted Sampdoria and Nice, who were ideal for youngsters, but then the possibility of Leeds arose and I had no doubts, even if it cost more," he said. "England is the ultimate and I'm aiming for the Premier League within 3-4 years, otherwise I might think about returning [to Italy].
"I won't hide that I am a Juventus fan, but I am attracted by those clubs whose priority it is to make the most of youngsters. I'm thinking of Atalanta and Udinese, in addition to Samp. They are exemplary clubs."