Leeds United Are Back in the Premier League: Will Edinson Cavani Join Them?


The Edinson Cavani transfer link to Leeds United should be enough to remind us that their return to the Premier League is a big deal.

After 16 years outside of England’s top flight, manager Marcelo Bielsa has masterminded a path back to the big time. Alongside owner Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta, Leeds will now begin the work of landing new signings who help cement their status as a top-flight club.

There is some significant business to be done. Top of the priority list is a contract for Bielsa himself. But beyond that, sources expect the club to make five signings.

There is no guarantee over Bielsa, though whispers of an £8 million-per-season deal over two years should be enough to convince him not to walk away from this project. Leeds want the boss to continue to lead them with his thrilling brand of football.

Joe Urquhart covers Leeds for the Yorkshire Evening Post and told Bleacher Report: “Should Bielsa stay, then I have no doubts they will approach the division in exactly the same fashion as they did the Championship. Bielsa only plays one way, and he’ll not divert from his methods for any reason. It’ll be free-flowing attacking football, with a high press.

“Leeds can certainly take promise from what Chris Wilder has achieved with Sheffield United this year, and Bielsa, after all, has shown just how much having a top-class head coach can benefit a group of players in his two years at the club.

“If they can add some more quality and depth to the squad this summer, then I see no reason why they can’t shock a few teams. The big issue they had was putting the ball in the back of the net in the Championship-they’ll have to improve on that against higher quality opposition.”

Cavani would help in that sense, and it is the rumour around his name that has caused most headlines since Leeds secured promotion.

Available as a free agent after his Paris Saint-Germain contract expired in June, Cavani is also being linked with Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Roma and Inter Miami-to name a few.

But the Leeds report caused plenty of raised eyebrows in the football world.

How real is it? It’s hard to tell. But Radrizzani is well-connected and has good links with Cavani.

If they can keep Bielsa in charge, it would help land him. But at this stage, it is difficult to get carried away. The player’s personal terms will be significant, and the club are wary of getting caught up in the excitement of promotion.

“Radrizzani has set his stall out fairly early on after promotion and believes that the model for the club this summer will be similar to Sheffield United’s approach last season-rather than Aston Villa, for example,” Urquhart said.

“The first situation they’ll need to solve is at centre-back, with loanee Ben White departing the club back to Brighton & Hove Albion. White had a stunning season at Elland Road, and the club are very much set on trying to tempt him back to Leeds this summer.”

Already this summer, goalkeeper Illan Meslier has joined for £5 million from Lorient, and Helder Costa has done similarly from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £15 million, to be paid in instalments over his four-year contract. Manchester City winger Jack Harrison is also due to rejoin for a third season on loan with a view to buy.

Leeds are unsure whether their other goalkeeper, Kiko Casilla, will stay and have been linked with replacements such as Sergio Romero of Manchester United and Emiliano Martinez of Arsenal, per Alan Scott of .

In defence, Paul Jiggins of the same newspaper linked them with Tottenham defender Juan Foyth. They are believed to be looking at midfielders, too, such as Bournemouth’s David Brooks or Florentino Luis of Benfica.

And they have been linked with forwards other than Cavani, including Gent’s Jonathan David. Girona’s Cristhian Stuani is also on the radar, according to El Observador (h/t Sport Witness).

Sources have told B/R that River Plate defender Gonzalo Montiel is also a target. He is described as a Pablo Zabaleta-type full-back and already has a host of other clubs pursuing him, thought to include West Ham United, Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. He would cost around £15 million.

Bielsa’s stature around Europe also means that he will have connections that give Leeds the chance to sign loan players that other Premier League clubs will not have, and that is an avenue they will be exploring.

In Orta, Leeds have a sporting director who has quietly made history by being the only person in such a role to guide two sides to the Premier League. He was involved with Middlesbrough when they went up with Aitor Karanka as manager.

Orta and Bielsa have the utmost confidence in each other, and along with Angus Kinnear-the club’s managing director-they have a solid hierarchy in place.

Discussions may also take place about how things are structured at the highest level.

Leeds are 90 per cent owned by Italian media mogul Radrizzani, who has turned around the club’s fortunes since taking full control in 2017.

Yet B/R sources have indicated that American Football franchise, the San Francisco 49ers, could look to have more influence.

49ers Enterprises bought 10 per cent of Leeds in 2018 and may look to have a bigger say now that the club are in the big time.

These are exciting times, and Ben from the Talking Shutt LUFC podcast outlined to Bleacher Report what the club’s mindset will be ahead of their top-flight return.