Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is featured this week in an interview with ESPN Brasil.
With the season now behind him, the chat he had with reporter João Castello Branco was mostly about Brazilian football. One of the topics was the Whites’ star Raphinha.
Following a €18.5m move from Rennes last summer, the winger had a quite good first season for Leeds, with eight goals and 11 assists in 38 appearances. Still, that wasn’t enough for him to be called up by Brazil manager Tite for the World Cup Qualifiers and the Copa America.
Marcelo Bielsa didn’t want to criticise the national team manager, but made it clear that Raphinha was a very important player for the Elland Road side this season.
“I’ve been a national team coach for many years and I’m careful never to say whether a player I coach deserves to be in a national team or not, because the person who has all the possibilities to make the right decision is the national team coach, especially having a man as intelligent as Brazil has,” Bielsa told ESPN Brasil.
“I can say if a player is doing well or not, but I can’t compare this player with the other options because I have a deep knowledge of Raphinha’s quality, but I don’t deeply know the other players who play in the same position as him and are of the same nationality.
“My opinion is that he’s a great player.”
Marcelo Bielsa was previously linked and even engaged in talks with a couple of Brazilian clubs a few years ago. Now the Leeds United manager claims he’d still like to work in the country in the future, even though he doesn’t know if it’ll be possible.
“I’d love to know Brazil participating in the Brazilian League. Brazilian football has always – for us who love football – has been a big question mark, because we see the best of Brazilian football, but we don’t see how it’s formed. After all, Brazil is a huge country.”
“That’s a league that is ‘marathonic’. I don’t mean the state ones, but the national ones – and I always had the fantasy of how beautiful it’d be to know all of Brazilian football by taking part in a team and taking part in this tournament where it is possible to know the essence of Brazilian football. Obviously, I have less time each day.”