By Jason Jones

22nd May, 2020 | 6:30pm

'Among the best' - Javier Mascherano praises senior Leeds man who he holds in 'very high esteem'

Former Barcelona star Javier Mascherano has claimed that Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is “among the best” coaches he has ever had.

The 35-year-old Argentine was handed his international debut by Bielsa back in 2003 – the first of 147 caps for his country.

Since then, Mascherano has won two Champions League trophies and played under a number of world class managers, including Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

But he still lists Bielsa as one of his favourite managers that he has worked under.

Speaking to Argentine outlet Ole, he said: “Surely he is among the best I have ever had.

“The problem is that I had Marcelo at a very young age and when you are so young you can retain little. I would have liked to have had him when I was much more mature.

“My consideration for a coach who bet on me without having made my debut in a first-team is very high. I hold Marcelo in very high esteem.

“I was left with the thorn of not having played with him longer and being more mature.”

Time and time again we hear esteemed figures in the professional game heap praise on Bielsa.

The Argentine is certainly a unique figure, and his quiet charisma and meticulous attention to detail have made him a hit at Elland Road – and in the beautiful game as a whole.

In 2017, Pep Guardiola claimed that Bielsa was the “best in the world”, while Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that the 64-year-old is “like a father” to him.

With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising to hear another veteran of the game like Mascherano pile on the praise too.

Perhaps what’s most telling though is the fact that the ex-Barca man still holds Bielsa in such high regard nearly two decades after working with him for a brief spell as a young international.

It really speaks volumes as to the impact and influence that Bielsa has on his players, and this current Leeds squad will no doubt feel equally as fortunate to be under the tutelage of a true legend of the modern game.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay suggests defender exit might be on the cards if Leeds fail to win promotion.