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Leeds United Opinion: Why Bielsa should sign his former player Ander Iturraspe

According to the Daily Star, Leeds United are set to make a move for Athletic Bilbao star Ander Iturraspe next summer, with manager Marcelo Bielsa keen on bringing his former player to Elland Road to increase competition for places.

Spanish Outlet AS claims that the 30-year-old defensive midfielder is set to leave his boyhood club upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season, with Leeds United being touted as his next possible destination.

Having come through the youth ranks at Bilbao, the hugely-experienced Spaniard has been associated with his boyhood club for 20 years, making a total of 319 appearances for the La Liga outfit. Iturraspe has been one of the mainstays of Bilbao’s midfield for years but he has fallen out of favour this term, starting only once in the La Liga.

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Leeds have enjoyed a wonderful season in the second tier under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa and their 15-year long absence from the Premier League looks likely to end.

Just a couple of points behind leaders Norwich City, the Peacocks are right on track to secure automatic promotion and Bielsa’s interest in Iturraspe in a clear indication that he has already started planning for survival in the top flight.

Kalvin Phillips has done a wonderful job in the holding midfield role for Leeds this term, with Bielsa also relying on Adam Forshaw to play the anchor role when Phillips was required to fill in at the heart of the defence to cover for the absence of Pontus Jansson.

Both Phillips and Forshaw have done a commendable job in that position but someone like Ander Iturraspe, with his bagful of La Liga and Europa League experience, should be a welcome addition to the squad.

It is difficult to say whether the 30-year-old will be an upgrade on their existing options, but the fact that Bielsa knows the player very well from his earlier managerial days at Bilbao, should work in favour of Leeds.

Standing at 6ft. 2 inches with a towering and robust frame, Iturraspe is neither the fastest nor the most agile presence on the pitch.

However, he is capable of adding energy and steel to the midfield with his uncompromised work-rate. His calmness and composure in possession combined with his ability to pick out the right pass and switch the play should be invaluable assets to any promoted team in the Premier League.

Furthermore, he has the ability to cut out the attacks with crucial tackles and interceptions.

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As evident from his tally of 3 goals and 8 assists from over 300 games, the twice-capped Spanish international doesn’t offer much in terms of attack, but he is more than capable of adding that sense of stability to the midfield.

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Leeds need to bring in a few high-profile players from across the continent to rub shoulders with the Premier League sides next season and Iturraspe certainly fits the bill. That said, they should do everything to lure the Spaniard to Elland Road in the summer and his reunion with Bielsa can certainly work wonders for them in the top-flight.


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