Marcelo Bielsa close in on managerial return with Athletic Bilbao
Marcelo Bielsa’s return to Athletic Bilbao may have come closer after one of the club’s presidential hopefuls promised to sign the Argentine if he wins this week’s election.
Athletic will hold elections on June 24 and Inaki Arechabaleta, one of those standing to replace Aitor Elizegi as the Spanish club’s president, has said he will bring Bielsa back to the club if successful.
Bielsa, 66, previously managed the Spanish side between 2011 and 2013.
In a press conference on Monday, Arechabaleta said: “(Bielsa) is the most respected coach in the world. He is also a coach for the future, although in the past he has given us the best season of this century.
“(Bielsa) has evolved since then and his ambition, quality and ability will take us to the Athletic we need to become.”
Bielsa has meanwhile confirmed that he will take the job if Arechabaleta wins, and has already said that he has started preparing for the job.
Arechabaleta’s endorsement for Bielsa doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed the job, though.
Arechabaleta was seen as the least likely of the three candidates to win Friday’s election, although it remains to be seen how his endorsement of Bielsa will play out with voters.
Bielsa first took over Athletic in the summer of 2011, after stepping down as Chile national team manager.
The club flourished under his stewardship, reaching the Copa del Rey and Europa League finals in 2011-12. They also knocked out Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United from Europe with a shock 3-2 win at Old Trafford.
Towards the end of his time at Bilbao, however, he had a difficult relationship with some staff and players, and he remains a polarizing figure among supporters.
Bielsa has been out of work since being sacked as manager of Leeds United in February.
(Photo: George Wood/Getty Images)