Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is a “huge admirer” of Fulham playmaker Tom Cairney, Football Insider has learned.

The Scotland international has been revitalised this season after struggling to make an impact during the London club’s season in the Premier League.

A Leeds source has told Football Insider that Bielsa has told allies he regards Cairney as one of the outstanding players in the Championship as well as the best in his position in the division.

Bielsa is convinced the 28-year-old is good enough to thrive in the Premier League and has grown to be a “huge admirer” of a player who’s spent almost his entire career in the second tier.

The Argentine has been impressed by Cairney’s technical ability, inventiveness, passing range and ability to operate in tight spaces and make good decisions quickly.

Cairney joined Fulham from Blackburn Rovers in 2015 and has made 180 appearances for the club, scoring 34 goals and supplying 27 assists.

Predominantly an attacking midfielder but occasionally used in central midfield, he was integral to promotion two seasons but then failed to reproduce that form in the Premier League.

He scored just once and provided only one assist from 33 matches last season as Fulham were relegated at the first attempt.

Back in the Premier League, he has looked far more sure of himself and has spearheaded the club’s fine start to the campaign.

Cairney scored his seventh league goal of the season last night as Fulham defeated Derby County 3-0 to climb to third in the Championship.

He signed a contract extension in May that runs until 2024 with the option of another year.

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