Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa era was laden with incredible individual performance, but there were plenty of flopped transfers too.
The arrival of Bielsa in the summer of 2018 saw Leeds adopt a much more Championship-centred recruitment process after hefty investment in signings from abroad in the season prior.
Three loans came in from Chelsea to help bolster Bielsa’s setup, with one of those being highly-rated midfielder Lewis Baker, who spent the previous three years on loan at four different clubs.
However, much like his Chelsea teammates who joined him, it wasn’t a loan spell that did anything to progress the midfielder in his career, as he two starts in a total of nine league appearances before his loan was cut short in January, as he joined Reading for the remainder of the season.
After joining the Royals, he had this to say on his decision (via TEAMtalk):
“It’s the right time for me to come here, to get as much game time as possible.
“I think that’s what I need at the moment.
“If anyone knows me personally and knows how much I love football they know I just want to play.”
His decision was vindicated as he became a regular for Reading, before going back to square one with another loan in the 2019/20 season to Fortuna Dusseldorf as he made just nine appearances all season. He followed that with a loan to Trabzonspor, where he was a regular once more, but not exactly showing any sort of progression in his career.
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January 2022 finally ended his perpetual cycle of loans from Stamford Bridge when he joined Stoke City on a permanent deal, where has become a very important player.
It’s always been clear that Baker is a talented player and one that has a lot to offer, especially at Championship level, but has never had a real chance to with all the changing and loan moves.
After helping the Potters to finish 14th last season, they are currently sat in the same position with Baker now the captain of the club, who is relishing his role as leader of this group with four goals and two assists from midfield already this season – all of his goals coming from outside the box.
His time at Leeds perhaps perfectly sums up the issues he had with his frequent loans, that it was never going to help him in the long run, despite the best intentions of him to do well, and Bielsa to get the best out of him.