Leeds United have been flying in the Championship this season, and once the season resumes after its suspension due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they are favourites to finally secure promotion back to the Premier League, with a seven-point lead over third-placed Fulham. The very latest betting tips, despite the postponements, still see Leeds as the market leaders. This break from football, however, will give Marcelo Bielsa and director of football Victor Orta some time to assess and decide on potential targets for the summer transfer window, especially if Leeds need to recruit better quality and more experienced players in order to cope with the demands of the Premier League. In such a scenario, there is one player who should definitely be on their list, and that is Mikel San Jose.
The Athletic Bilbao player has been capped seven times by Spain, but is set to be released by Los Leones in the summer, making him available on a free transfer. He has been used sparingly by Bilbao this season, having made only nine appearances in all competitions, and is definitely out of favour under Gaizka Garitano. Surprisingly, he has spent time in England, as he was a part of Liverpool’s reserves for three seasons between 2007 and 2010, before making his way back to Bilbao, from where he started his career.
He is no stranger to Bielsa, having played under him for two seasons at San Mames, and therefore is probably well-versed with the manager’s methods and idiosyncrasies. Further, he is a multi-purpose player, able to play in a number of roles in midfield and defence, which should endear him to Bielsa, who likes his players to be tactically fluid and flexible. At 6’2″, San Jose is physically imposing, and would be a good fit for the squad, especially as backup for Kalvin Phillips in defensive midfield. Given the number of injuries that Leeds have picked up since Bielsa’s arrival two years ago, having a deep squad is imperative, and San Jose will fit the bill perfectly, also due to his positional versatility, as mentioned before.
Along with his Spain caps, San Jose has played over 300 games in La Liga, and has experience in Europe as well, as he was part of the Bielsa-led squad which reached the final of the Europa League in 2012, only to lose to Atletico Madrid. Thus, he has the top-flight experience as well which Leeds will be looking to add to their squad, and being available on a free transfer, should definitely interest Orta and Bielsa.