Brilliant Talent - Exclusive: McLeish reacts as Leeds & Wolves in hunt to sign assist king
Michael Olise is a brilliant talent but Leeds United are sorely mistaken if they think the £8million target has what it takes to immediately replicate Pablo Hernandez.
That is according to ex-Birmingham, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest manager Alex McLeish, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge.
Football Insider last month that Olise has an £8million release clause in his contract and Reading are likely to cash in on him in January amid interest from multiple top clubs including Leeds, Liverpool, Arsenal, Wolves and Crystal Palace.
2020-21 has been Olise’s breakthrough year in the Championship – the Reading attacking-midfielder has registered seven assists, more than anyone else in the division.
And while McLeish acknowledged that Olise was a special talent, he retains a degree of scepticism when it comes to replacing youth with experience, drawing on his own experience as a manager.
He told Football Insider: “I thought I could get the new Tommy Coyne, the new Paul Lambert… It’s not quite as easy as that.
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“[Olise] certainly won’t have all the answers that Hernandez has got because he [Hernandez] is a proven professional who’s had a long, long time in the game. But Olise’s got great potential.
“Of course, if you don’t have the money that the big guns have, then you should bring in young players. I was never afraid to bring young players and put them in the team. I did it at many of my clubs, I always knew they’d make mistakes but they should be allowed to make mistakes.
“But sometimes it can risk you being in the relegation zone, when you don’t have enough quality or nous in the team to be in the higher regions of the league.”
Pablo Hernandez has played 158 times for Leeds but featured only once in the club’s first season back in the top-flight for 16 years.
This is due in large part to a muscular injury, but at 35-years-old it might difficult for the Spaniard to keep up with the physical demands of Marcelo Bielsa’s game plan going forward, hence the Elland Road nterest in Olise.