'Leeds wanted to appoint Conte before Bielsa' - Radrizzani

The former Chelsea boss was on the Elland Road outfit's shortlist of managerial candidates over the summer along with Claudio Ranieri

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has revealed that he wanted to appoint Antonio Conte as the club's new manager before settling on Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds are the only Championship side to have retained a 100 per cent record during the early weeks of the campaign, with Bielsa's thrilling brand of football earning him many plaudits.

With the Elland Road outfit having also beaten Bolton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup, Bielsa has become the first manager in the club's history to win his first four matches in charge.

Radrizzani, though, has now revealed that the players could have been taking to the pitch with a different manager, having conducted talks with a number of high-profile managers including Claudio Ranieri and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

Indeed, he says he would have been prepared to pay €20 million (£18m/$23m) to lure ex-Chelsea manager Conte to West Yorkshire - a move which he feels would have guaranteed promotion.

"Conte [was on the list] and with him, we would have been certain of promotion to the Premier League," Radrizzani told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I would even have offered him €20m. Then I interviewed 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 Martinez, but Belgium were an obstacle.

"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.

Article continues below

"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."

Leeds are next in action against Swansea City on Tuesday knowing a win would see them move above leaders Middlesbrough to the top of the table.