By Noel Whelan

10th Jul, 2021 | 4:00pm

Whelan surprised by what Bielsa has told Gelhardt in Leeds training chat

Noel Whelan has admitted he was surprised to hear Marcelo Bielsa sees Leeds United starlet Joe Gelhardt as an out-and-out striker.

The former Leeds hitman, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 19-year-old is more comparable to Rodrigo than Patrick Bamford in style.

As quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post (July 6th), Gelhardt revealed Bielsa had pulled him aside for a chat and said “he sees me as a nine”.

The teenager confirmed he had been playing as a centre-forward, rather than a second striker, in training.

Gelhardt spent much of last season operating in an attacking midfield role for the under-23s.

Whelan suggested Bielsa had seen “something different” in the youngster to move him further up the pitch.

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Asked if Gelhardt’s reveal had surprised him, Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “It has a little bit.

“Looking through the eyes of Marcelo Bielsa, who coaches them, trains them and watches them every day, he sees something different.

“He likes people that are versatile. There’s versatility in him, for sure. He can play across that front three. He’s got that much talent he can drop into a number 10 role.

“I think sometimes you see number nines as different players. When you play Rodrigo up front, he can run in behind and also likes to drop into that number 10 role.

“I see Gelhardt probably more like a Rodrigo than I do a Patrick Bamford. He likes to pull off the shoulder, he likes to get in between defenders.

“He can come off into that little pocket of space in between the midfield and the backline. That’s where defenders don’t really want to go. He’s already in front of the midfield player so he can turn and run at people.

“He’s a very intelligent player and no matter where you put him, he’ll find the space. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him this season, I really am. I think the fans are as well.”

In other news, door open for Leeds United to sign two players as deal done.