Ex-Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa named new coach of Uruguay

Marcelo Bielsa has been named manager of the Uruguay men’s national team through the 2026 World Cup, the federation announced on Monday.

Bielsa, 67, had been out of work since his departure from Premier League club Leeds United in February 2022. He replaces Diego Alonso, who resigned from the job after Uruguay’s group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Uruguay will be the third South American country Bielsa has coached, having managed Argentina between 1998-2004 and Chile from 2007-2011. He will likely oversee his first matches in June, when Uruguay play friendlies against Nicaragua and Cuba.

With his native Argentina, Bielsa guided the team to Olympic gold in 2004 and a runners-up finish at the Copa America the same year. However, they endured a shock group-stage exit at the 2002 World Cup.

With Chile, he ended a two-tournament absence for the country to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, where they were eliminated by Brazil in the Round of 16.

Although his career has brought few trophies, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential coaches with an aggressive pressing style that has been cited by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino.

Bielsa began his coaching career with Newell’s Old Boys and has also managed Athletic Club and Marseille among others. He was a hugely popular figure during his four years at Leeds, guiding them back to the Premier League in 2020 after a 16-year absence.

Uruguay begin their qualifying campaign campaign for the World Cup at home to Chile in September. With an expanded 48-team tournament to take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico, six South America teams will qualify automatically for the finals with a seventh entering a playoff.