Leeds played a blinder with Ronaldo Vieira

Leeds United ended their long wait for a return back to the Premier League as Marcelo Bielsa guided the team to promotion from the Championship in the 2019/20 campaign.

The Argentine head coach needed two seasons in the second tier to claim the much-coveted prize of securing top-flight football as the Whites won the title, finishing above West Brom in the table.

Bielsa also came close to doing it in his first campaign in charge as he led the side to third in the table, finishing below Sheffield United and Norwich before losing in the play-offs.

The ex-Marseille coach arrived at Elland Road in the summer of 2018 and his first transfer window in Yorkshire was a busy one, as Victor Orta brought in the likes of Patrick Bamford, Barry Douglas, and Kiko Casilla.

Leeds also cashed in one of their hottest prospects as they sold central midfielder Ronaldo Vieira to Italian side Sampdoria for a reported fee of £7.7m.

Whites owner Andrea Radrizzani explained that he made the sale for the good of the club, telling BBC Sport: 

“The investment we’ve made in the past year does not allow us to do anything else to find more resources.

“The sacrifice was very hard for me to do because he’s a great player. He was one of best players to come from our youth but I cannot put the club in danger in the future.

“We thought it would be a sacrifice we could take, and still maintain the team and invest where we need more.”

One of the players they signed with the money that the sale raised was Bamford and the striker scored 16 Championship goals in the promotion-winning season and then managed 17 strikes in the top-flight to help Leeds maintain their place in the division.

Meanwhile, Vieira has struggled to kick on in his career. He has only played 67 matches for Sampdoria in just over four years at the club, although he spent one year on loan at Hellas Verona – playing five times – in 2020/21.

In the three seasons in which he has played 10 or more matches in the Serie A, the Englishman failed to average a SofaScore rating higher than 6.68. For context, a score of 6.68 would place him 18th in the Leeds squad for the 2021/22 campaign in the Premier League – below Helder Costa and Adam Forshaw.

This suggests that he has been unable to deliver consistently impressive performances in the Italian top-flight and his market value is a reflection of that. At the time of writing (23/09/22), Transfermarkt value Vieira at £3.15m – significantly less than the initial £7.7m Leeds received for him in 2018.

His value has plummeted by 59% and this shows that Radrizzani played a blinder as he was able to rake in a big fee for the Sampdoria dud before his career started to head down a slope, whilst also reinvesting the money brilliantly – with Bamford.