Amid reports that Leeds United have made Argentine Marcelo Bielsa their top candidate in their coaching search, more names have been mentioned as possible replacements to Paul Heckingbottom.
⚽️ Leeds United have just sacked the manager. They’re in contact with Matias Almeyda, Marcelo Bielsa and Steve Bruce; also with Claudio Ranieri but he’s the most difficult name for them. Leeds will take a decision on next 2 days. @SkySportsNews— Mario Giunta (@MarioGiunta) June 1, 2018
Heckingbottom was sacked earlier today and with rumours of Bielsa possibly headed to Elland Road, more names have emerged as possible candidates. And while some of the usual suspects have been mentioned, like Steve Bruce and Claudio Ranieri, one name is someone that not many Leeds fans would be familiar with: Matís Almeyda.
Almeyda is a former Argentinian footballer who played for River Plate, Quilmes, and Fénix in Argentina, Brescia, Inter Milan, Lazio, and Parma in Italy, Sevilla in Spain, and Lyn in Norway. He spent most of his career at River Plate, starting out and finishing his career at the Buenos Aries giants. During his first spell at River Plate, he won the Copa Libertadores in 1996 and three Primera Division titles in 1993, 1994, and 1996.
Almeyda also appeared 149 times in eight seasons in Italy, including being a key member of Sven Goran Eriksson’s Lazio side that won the Scudetto and Coppa Italia in 2000. He also won 35 caps for Argentina.
He has managed River Plate and Banfield in Argentina, winning the Argentinian second division with Banfield, before moving to Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico. He took the Chivas job in 2015, and has lead them to a number of titles in his time at the club.
Chivas is one of the biggest clubs in all of North America, with their “Mexican-only” policy both limiting their options while endearing them to a great number of fans in both the United States and Mexico. Chivas does not have the financial resources of some of their league rivals, such as Club América, and so have been forced to sell on many of their talented players.
Despite having budget constraints and difficulty with the board at Chivas, Almeyda won two cups (Apertura 2015 & Clausura 2017), one Supercoppa (2016), one Liga MX title (Clasura 2017) and the latest edition of the Concacaf Champions League.
In the 2018 CCL, Chivas were consider huge underdogs against Toronto FC of MLS, with Toronto featuring a team salary of over $20 million, and featuring stars such as Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Michael Bradley. Chivas shocked most of the MLS and even Liga MX world by defeating Toronto on penalties after drawing 3-3 in the two-legged final.
Almeyda left Chivas yesterday, meaning that he is currently unemployed and looking for a job. He apparently felt that the preseason plans and off-season moves that the board were planning did not line up with his ambitions and with Chivas players protesting a lack of on-time payments leading up to the CCL final, a lack of money, and the departure of such key players as Mexico international defender Osvaldo Alanis, who left for Getafe in Spain, and star Rodolfo Pizzaro, who has been linked with a move to CF Monterrey.
The news left many Chivas fans in a state of shock, as despite the poor Clausura 2018 showing, Almeyda was seen as a young, up-and-coming manager with a bright future ahead of him. Many players were shocked at the decision and sent him messages of support. He’s said in the past that he would be interested in the Mexico job after this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
So will Almeyda surprise the footballing world and come to Leeds? If the talks with Bielsa break down, a deal for Almeyda might be in the works.