By Adefunmiloye Alani

13th Aug, 2021 | 9:10am

Marcelo Bielsa reacts to Gjanni Alioski's Leeds United exit

Gjanni Alioski left Leeds United at the expiration of his deal after the end of the 2020-21 campaign, and Marcelo Bielsa has admitted his exit left him sad.

The North Macedonian international spent four seasons at Elland Road, and he refused to sign an extension despite the club’s best efforts to keep him.

Alioski, 29, has since joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli and Bielsa has reacted to his departure in his first pre-match press conference of the new season.

Asked about the left-back’s exit ahead of the Manchester United game, the Leeds head coach replied (as shared via Beren Cross’ personal Twitter account): “Very sad. Due to the football part of course, but in the humane part specifically.

“I have a lot of affection for Alioski.”

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Alioski divided opinion among the Leeds supporters and pundits largely due to his defensive shortcomings, but nobody can deny the fact that he always gave his best on the pitch.

He was a major character in the dressing room, and his teammates, the fans and Bielsa will definitely miss him.

Luckily for us, we have signed a capable replacement and arguably an upgrade in Junior Firpo, and the Spaniard now has to prove his quality after his struggles at Barcelona.

Convincing a player in the last year of his contract to sign an extension is one of the toughest jobs of any sporting director, and Leeds should not have left it late with Alioski.

A boss like Bielsa should not be losing a player he loves, but some contract situations cannot be resolved no matter the club’s best efforts, and hopefully, we can learn from that experience going forward when it comes to other players.

Alioski has left Elland Road as a fan favourite and will surely be adored by the club given his four seasons of quality services, and Firpo must now look to follow suit and aim to hit the ground running at Old Trafford this weekend.

In other Leeds news, Jim White shares big Whites prediction ahead of 2021/22 campaign.