Bournemouth hold talks with Marcelo Bielsa over return to management

Marcelo Bielsa could be in line for a shock return to the Premier League after holding talks with Bournemouth.

Bielsa, who was sacked by Leeds in February, is the club’s preferred external candidate should they decide against appointing the interim manager, Gary O’Neil, on a permanent basis. Bielsa is wanted by the prospective Bournemouth owner Bill Foley, whose £120m takeover is awaiting ratification by the Premier League. The 67-year-old Argentinian memorably restored Leeds to the top flight in 2020 after a 16-year hiatus.

Bournemouth cooled their interest in Kjetil Knutsen, the Bodø/Glimt manager, and were strong admirers of Roberto De Zerbi, who has since been appointed Graham Potter’s successor at Brighton.

O’Neil has done a remarkable job to stabilise the club after Scott Parker was sacked following Bournemouth’s 9-0 defeat at Liverpool in August. O’Neil, who is highly regarded by the Bournemouth hierarchy, would move on if a move for Bielsa materialises.

O’Neil, the 39-year-old former Portsmouth midfielder, led Bournemouth into the Carabao Cup last 16 with an impressive 4-1 win over Everton on Tuesday and they face the same opponent on Saturday hoping to halt a run of four straight league defeats. The former academy coach at Liverpool joined then-caretaker manager Jonathan Woodgate’s backroom team as a senior first-team coach in February 2021. Woodgate led the club into the playoffs but was replaced by Parker that summer.