Andoni Iraola looks as though he is the front runner to take over from Jesse Marsch at Leeds United if the Whites can prise him out of high-flying La Liga club Rayo Vallecano – a manager that earned praise from Andrea Pirlo in 2016.
Since Marsch was sacked, 40-year-old Iraola has been the manager that has constantly been linked this week. Phil Hay initially reported the interest in Iraola. Since, The Times say he is one of three Leeds want, whittling their shortlist down.
That list also includes Feyenoord’s Arne Slot, and Marcelo Gallardo who left River Plate in December – after more than eight years in charge. The Mail claim Victor Orta has travelled to Madrid to stage talks with Rayo and Iraola himself.
Iraola is still young and only retired from playing professionally himself in 2016. Turning out for MLS side New York City in his last stint as a player, he lined up along with the likes of Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Jack Harrison. Pirlo is a big fan.
Speaking about Iraola in 2016 after the Spaniard was being used in midfield, away from his normal full-back position, alongside the legendary Italian – Pirlo said: “I find myself in a great situation because he is very smart technically”.
Leeds front runner Andoni Iraola earned praise from Andrea Pirlo in 2016
Gallardo is likely to be enjoying a break after clocking up more than 400 games over eight years as River boss. While, Slot has never left his home country – in his playing career, or as a manager. He has also, never won the Eredivisie.
But, his Feyenoord side sit top of the Dutch division after 20 games. He is closer than ever to securing that title. So, the chances of Slot leaving for Leeds right now is unlikely. Slot may be more tempted in the summer, to leave Feyenoord.
That makes Iraola first choice. The fact Orta has travelled to Spain to discuss the manager, suggests a move is likely. Whether or not they can tempt Rayo to let them have their manager remains to be seen. But he has huge potential.