Marcelo Bielsa has hailed Steven Gerrard for stamping his mark on Aston Villa so quickly – and knows his Leeds side will face a tough test of their credentials in Wednesday’s Premier League clash.
The Whites have endured a difficult season so far with a plethora of injuries damaging their progress. Indeed, they have won just five of their 21 matches so far, with defeat to Newcastle last time out pulling them back into the relegation equation.
They next face two away games as the Premier League resumes from its winter break. First up for Leeds is the trip to ever-improving Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
They look a far-improved side under the management of Gerrard, with the Liverpool icon taking charge in early November.
He also made quite the splash during the January window with Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne among their signings.
However, a win for Leeds – who beat West Ham 3-2 in their last away game – can take them within a point of Villa.
That said, Bielsa knows his side are in the for a tough test with Gerrard earning praise from the Leeds boss.
Bielsa on Gerrard and Coutinho
“In Scotland, he had a brilliant step. What he has managed this far at Aston Villa is good because he has put his stamp on the team very quickly,” Bielsa said.
Bielsa also knows Leeds will have to be on their guard against Coutinho.
However, one goal for Villa already and another for Brazil suggests he’s heading in the right direction.
And Bielsa knows Leeds must be on their guard.
“He’s a player with prestige whose past speaks for itself. Playing in a Premier League team like Villa with growth is telling. And he’s back in the Brazil team.”
Boss on new deals for Raphinha and Phillips
Leeds’ Brazilian dangerman of their own, Raphinha, continues to hold talks with Leeds over a new deal.
It’s a similar situation with Kalvin Phillips after his agent made a big statement on the midfield talisman.
Now Bielsa has underlined the importance of both players extending their stays.
“I describe it as important the club keeps their best players,” Bielsa said, via Leeds Live. “That does not deserve more recognition than I’ve already given it.
“The equilibrium of the economy of a club needs to be established for the good of the club. For the club not selling such important players, trying to make an investment of £20m, shows a signal.
“Also, when you judge the options of a team in the winter window, it’s very useful to see what conditions the players were in. Who they bought, how much they spent, how much the players are worth, how much did they cost, what conditions do those players arrive on loan.
“The signings need immediate success whether they are for now or long-term incorporation.”