Marcelo Bielsa funds player hotel with games room, BBQ balcony for Newell's Old Boys
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is paying a reported $2.5 million for a new training ground at Newell's Old Boys, which comes with a games room and a barbecue balcony, but insists he is "paying a debt" to his hometown club rather than a donation.
Bielsa's architect sister Maria Eugenia has designed a five-storey training complex for the Argentine side, which is due to open on Nov. 3 -- the day the of the club's 115th birthday -- and it will be paid for by the club legend. According to Argentina newspaper Ole, the construction cost has run to 91.5m Argentine pesos
The building will have a balcony complete with a grill for the players to cook some sumptuous Argentine steaks in the sunshine, and a games room for them to relax after training (or, possibly, have a nap while they digest all that beef).
Furthermore, it has a manager's office and video room to study future opponents, and a garage installed with a special entrance which will allow the players to board the bus without leaving the complex.
Rosario-born Bielsa, 63, started his playing career in the city with Newell's, and his status as club icon was cemented when he led them to two league titles as manager in 1990 and 1992. And, despite Bielsa giving the club two thirds of their entire haul of league titles, he still feels he has more to offer.
While Newell's treat the gesture as a donation, he insisted it was merely something he owed, given all the club have done for him.
"From the club who formed me, I received more from Newell's Old Boys than what I gave to them," Bielsa said. "I'm actually paying a debt to Newell's Old Boys rather than making a gift.
"Two things are important: the quality of players and the quality of the preparation they receive. Infrastructure means you can improve the preparation."
The training complex will be known as the Jorge Griffa Hotel, after Bielsa's former assistant and the Argentine hopes this will help bring success to his former club.
"When you have things that build the stability of a club, this makes the club more attractive," Bielsa said. "When the organisation of a club is efficient, you'll have football players who want to come.
"You also have coaches who want to work at the club. Anything you can do to raise the standards is very important. The essence of Newell's Old Boys is important, the people who support the club.
"The training ground is a very interesting one and they work a lot with young players there. What I did is just a small gesture towards the club."
Newell's are languishing in 22nd place in the Argentine Superliga table. If moving into this plush new facility doesn't turn their fortunes around, then surely nothing will.