Marcelo Bielsa says he accepts Leeds' decision to let Samuel Saiz leave on loan
Watch Leeds face Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 21/12/18 4:55pm
Marcelo Bielsa says there is no conflict with the Leeds hierarchy over their decision to allow Samuel Saiz to return to Spain on loan, despite him having played an integral role in their promotion push.
Saiz, who arrived at Elland Road in July 2017 from SD Huesca on a four-year deal, will join La Liga side Getafe on loan on January 1, with a view to the move being made permanent in the summer.
The 27-year-old was a first-team regular under Bielsa and the Argentine is well aware of the impact Saiz's absence in the squad will have as the club pushes for a first return to the Premier League since 2004.
"Regarding Saiz I gave my opinion [of his importance] by the time I gave him as a player," Bielsa said ahead of Leeds' visit to Aston Villa on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.
"I think he played 80 per cent of the competition. He left the club being a starter, he missed four or five games and when he left our midfield was [Adam] Forshaw, [Mateusz] Klich and [Samuel] Saiz.
"So I have to be very careful. We see he was a player who had a lot of value for me. I can't say that it doesn't matter if he left because you would tell me then why did he play 80 per cent of the games? Which is my first point."
Leeds were without Saiz as they extended their winning run to five in the league with victory against Bolton last week and Bielsa refutes the notion he was aware of the midfielder's potential move.
"My second point is I didn't ask Saiz to leave. I never talked to him about his desire to leave the club. In the club there are people I trust very much that evaluated the situation," he said.
"They took the decision that they thought was the right one. I don't agree and I don't disagree with the decision that has been taken.
"I can't tell you that I asked Saiz to leave [or I] made it easier for him to leave and that it doesn't matter that he has left.
"We have a group of 18 players and he was one of them. When you put limitations to the number of the players we can't say happily that it doesn't matter when one of the 18 leaves.
"Of course we are in conditions to find a solution. We also assume the fact that we can't rely on him anymore."
Bielsa's Leeds marching on
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Leeds are one point clear of Norwich at the top of the Championship and despite Aston Villa being unbeaten in seven games, Bielsa says it would be "premature" to say whether they are a serious rival for promotion.
"The important thing for this competition is who is getting promoted and who is struggling," Bielsa added of Villa, who are three points off the play-off spots.
"As it is a very long competition as you have many possibilities because you have six teams who could go up. Any conclusion you make would be premature. I see that every time I am asked the same question in a different way but unfortunately I can't give you a different answer.
"Imagine if I had to give you an answer with a level of certainty! For any observers it would be a lack of responsibility because we have only played half of the games so far.
"If you ask me whether they have the players and structure to go up then, yes. Do they have a brilliant head coach [Dean Smith]? Of course."