By Neil Champney

23rd May, 2020 | 11:30am

'Genius' - Former Championship midfielder heaps praise on key Leeds figure

Former Stoke City midfielder Giannelli Imbula has described Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa as a “genius”. 

The 27-year-old, who now plies his trade in Russia, spent some time working with the Argentine during a spell with Marseille earlier in his career.

And the Democratic Republic of Congo international has reflected fondly on his stint with the Elland Road boss.

Speaking to French outlet Foot Transfert, he said: I read an article a few days ago in which a player compared him to the Professor in Le Casa de Papel [the original Spanish name for popular Netflix drama Money Heist].

“It made me smile because, in fact, behind the genius of Bielsa hides a man concerned about the well-being of his players. He knew how to give me confidence in myself.

“On bad nights, he had the right words to comfort us. On the sporting level, I have progressed a lot tactically thanks to him, especially in my movement, in the intensity of my game, and in my recovery.

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“I am very grateful to him, he gave me the opportunity to show myself in my best light.”

It sometimes feels as if barely a day goes by without a player or manager heaping praise on Bielsa.

Just this week, ex-Barcelona star Javier Mascherano described the 64-year-old as being “among the best” bosses he has ever worked with.

Similarly, we all know how highly the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino respect him, and even Diego Maradona has sang his praises on the past.

We have been fortunate enough to see the “genius” that Imbula describes first hand over the past two seasons, and Bielsa has helped transform this Leeds side into the best team in the Championship.

Promotion in the coming weeks would be the least that he deserves for his outstanding contribution to the club.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay outlines ‘biggest threat’ potentially facing Leeds promotion push.