It’s over a month since Eddie Nketiah left Leeds United to rejoin Arsenal, but Marcelo Bielsa is still ranting about it in his press conferences.
With Leeds on the back of four defeats and just one win in their last five games, Marcelo Bielsa held a lengthy press conference before their match against Nottingham Forest.
In all, it lasted around 59 minutes, but the interesting part for Arsenal fans concerned Eddie Nketiah. Arsenal recalled the striker at the start of the month, before deciding to keep him a couple of weeks later.
Nketiah made his first start post-comeback against Bournemouth last Monday, scoring Arsenal’s second goal. Bielsa is clearly unhappy he can’t call on the striker anymore, and he made that clear to the media.
“Nketiah arrived here because Leeds was the ideal place to grow, because it was me who was going to coach him,” said Bielsa. “I know who I am and I don’t believe those messages.
“Everything around the transfer of Eddie was a lie, Nketiah came to play. In any way, he didn’t play and he left.
“But even worse, because I, in two situations, I put Bamford on the bench and in two months he was with us, he wasn’t able to play. Players do preseason.
“One player in six months plays two matches, thinks he will arrive to one club and play is underestimating what Leeds is as a club, a team and an institution.
“I think that Nketiah is going to be one of the best English players. He was a starter twice, moving one player like Bamford, a great player and a day later he decides to leave the club.”
Does he have a point?
If you’re struggling to make sense of all that, you’re not alone. Bielsa clearly thinks Nketiah was wrong to believe he would play regularly for Leeds, which would be a helpful point to make to the player before he joins you on loan. Not after he leaves.
If you mislead a player by not telling him your plan is to use him as a substitute for the entire season, that’s on you.
You can pretend Nketiah ‘should’ve known better’ if you want, but if you decide not to make the situation clear to him from the start, that’s your choice.
Incredibly, Bielsa also seems to be trying to suggest he deserves credit for putting Bamford on the bench a couple of times. That’s an interesting claim, given Nketiah only started two Championship games, and Bamford was absent through injury for one of them.
The only game Nketiah started in the league with Bamford on the bench in his entire six-month loan was against West Brom. Bielsa brought Bamford on at half-time in that game. Bamford was returning from injury at the time. Bielsa wants credit for that start.
The one thing Bielsa does have a point about is the injury to Nketiah. It only lasted a month, not two, but it was certainly a frustrating hindrance. That doesn’t explain the other 18 games he put Nketiah on the bench (out of 20 available).