The ex-Leeds United coach will have no shortage of offers should he decide to stay in the game following his Elland Road exit
February marked the end of an era at Elland Road, and possibly the last hurrah for one of footballs most engaging characters.
Marcelo Bielsa was relieved of his duties at Leeds United following a damaging run of defeats which left the club on the verge of the Premier League relegation zone; but there were few recriminations towards the Argentine from the supporters.
Instead, there were tears, warm farewells and no little anger at the club for letting go a man who had captured fans hearts during his near-four years years on the bench.
Even as Bielsa made his way back home across the Atlantic Ocean, his presence was still being felt in banners and signs commemorating his unforgettable tenure, while in Argentina speculation had already begun over what, if any, his next job would be.
One rather curious proposition came from the editor of Clarin, the nations largest-circulation newspaper, who in an opinion column, and seemingly only half in jest, threw Bielsas hat in the ring to become the next president of Argentina.
The Rosario native, as is his wont, offered no words to reporters once back on home soil, nor did he offer any hint of what to expect in the future.
But there were no few observers who were happy to do El Locos talking for him, both in Argentina and further afield.
One potential employer emerged from a rather unexpected source: Mexican Formula One driver Sergio Checo Perez, a diehard fan of Club America and on close terms with the sides current owners.
“I would love Marcelo Bielsa for America, but it is not up to me,” the Red Bull driver told ESPN when asked who he wished to see succeed ex-Real Madrid boss, Bielsas compatriot Santiago Solari, who recently parted ways with the club after just over a year in charge.
“Why not? Everything is possible for America.”
Another tantalising, if equally hypothetical job opportunity was dangled in front of Bielsas eyes a little closer to home.
Godoy Cruz, based in the famous wine-growing region of Mendoza near the border between Argentina and Chile, currently employ one of Bielsas many proteges across the world of football: Diego Flores, his long-time collaborator and translator at the likes of Marseille, Lille and Leeds.
According to reports, Flores would remain in day-to-day charge of the club, who have been entertaining to watch if not always consistent during his six months at the helm (remind you of anyone?), while his former mentor would enter in a more advisory, directorial role upstairs.
Would such a proposal tempt the veteran? Bielsa was indeed effusive with his praise of Flores when he took the job in Mendoza, stating that: “Diego Flores best virtues are not related to his time with our coaching staff. He is a person who built himself up.
“Both Diego Flores and [fellow ex-assistant and current Huddersfield Town boss] Carlos Corberan are very valuable people and have strong personalities to assume the responsibility of coaching.”
Whether the famously obsessive, detail-driven coach would accept taking a back seat in training and on matchdays, though, seems unlikely at this stage. A similar caveat would be in place for a return to international football, where he previously trained Argentina and Chile, becoming a national hero for the latter.
Having previously expressed a wish to take the reins at Australia, it was not a surprise to see his name linked with the Socceroos almost as soon as he was dismissed, especially given their current struggles in World Cup qualifying.
“We don’t need a new coach, we need a revolution. He’s a revolutionary,” ex-Australia man Craig Foster said to Stan Sport.
“Australia needs something special, we need something different, we need better thinking. Small nations like us, we can’t be the same. He has the strength to be able to do that.”
But at 66, it is difficult to see Bielsa submit himself to his third four-year World Cup cycle as a coach, particularly for a post on the other side of the globe and in uncharted territory for him.
In the short term at least, Bielsa will most likely take an extended break from the game following the stress and rigour of two taxing Premier League campaigns, complicated even further by the ravages of Covid-19.
Should he return, as those closest to him trust he will do, it will be as always on his terms, having performed an exhaustive investigation of his next employer and convinced that he can make a positive difference given the opportunity and resources.
One thing is certain, however. Should he opt to stay in football – and to be honest it is difficult to see such a die-hard student and fanatic of the game simply walk away – Bielsa will have no shortage of offers from across the planet.