By George Overhill

8th Feb, 2023 | 12:10pm

Victor Orta went from a meeting with Leeds United players at Thorp Arch to Madrid for negotiations with Andoni Iraola, according to the Daily Mail.

A highly eventful Tuesday (7 February) saw the Whites sporting director travel to Spain with a delegation from the club for talks with his preferred candidate, the Rayo Vallecano boss, as Carlos Corberan ruled himself out by signing an extension to his West Brom contract.

That has left 40-year-old Iraola as the new “frontrunner” to take over from Jesse Marsch, with the Orta-led Leeds United party in Madrid as of Tuesday night “hoping to convince” the overachieving La Liga boss to take the job and talks are said to be “in the balance”.

The Mail reports: “Director of football Victor Orta was understood to be in Madrid on Tuesday evening as part of a Leeds delegation hoping to persuade Iraola to succeed Jesse Marsch.

“The move came after Corberan opted to stay at West Bromwich and sign a new long-term contract.”

Later in the report it adds: “Orta travelled to Madrid having been at the club’s Thorp Arch training ground earlier in the day to update players on the latest developments.

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“His target, former Spain international Iraola, has led Rayo Vallecano to fifth in La Liga and draws his coaching inspiration from former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who he played under at Athletic Bilbao.”


Orta was thought to be favouring Iraola even before the news came from the Hawthorns on Tuesday night that knocked Corberan out of the running, who Andrea Radrizzani had been a fan of [Mail+, 7 February].

Despite being the key figure that kept former boss Marsch in his post for as long he did the sporting director’s influence has not been reduced and he is playing a key role in the search for the American’s successor.

His determination to land his man will presumably have only been heightened once the Baggies boss stopped being an option.

Negotiating for managers who are currently in work, which the top candidates have widely been reported to be, is always a risk, especially it hasn’t been done ahead of time.

Having dispensed with Marsch’s services the club are scrambling to get a new man in as quick as possible, but where coaches have an alternative in their current job it is no sure thing, as Corberan has proven.

Should Iraola, who has Rayo Vallecano just three points behind Atletico Madrid in Spain as they punch well above their weight, also decide to stick with the impressive job he is currently doing then things might start to get a bit edgy in the Elland Road board room.

It is crucial not to appoint the wrong option when Premier League survival is as stake, but equally, the right manager could potentially achieve a lot more than just staying up with this squad.

In other Leeds United news, click here to see breaking, around-the-clock updates on Leeds’ search for a new manager in our interactive live blog.