West Ham hold preliminary Bielsa talks

The Hammers have lined up the former Athletic Bilbao boss as one of the primary candidates to replace Sam Allardyce, but the Argentinian could stay with Marseille

By Graeme Bailey

West Ham have held preliminary discussions with Marcelo Bielsa about becoming their new manager.

The east London club announced that Sam Allardyce would not be signing a new contract to remain at Upton Park last Sunday, just moments after they had completed their final match of the season against Newcastle.

Goal revealed last month that West Ham were already making plans for life after Allardyce and had identified Bielsa as a prime candidate to succeed the former Bolton boss, with ambitious A-list targets Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Rafa Benitez out of reach.

Talks were understood to have been positive with the West Ham board enthused by the 59-year-old’s philosophy, although several members of the club’s hierarchy harbour concerns over the Marseille manager’s lack of English.

The former Argentina national team boss guided Marseille to fourth place in Ligue 1 last season and only narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification.

Sources in France expect Bielsa to commit to another year at the Stade Veledrome but the West Ham project is understood to appeal to a man who has spent the majority of his European management career in Spain.

Despite having fulfilled his remit of establishing the Hammers as a Premier League club following relegation to the Championship in 2011, Allardyce was deemed unsuitable to take the club forward as they prepare for life in their new home at the Olympic Stadium the season after next.