Marcelo Bielsa provisionally suspended by Lille after poor results
LILLE, France -- French club Lille provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa on Wednesday following a string of poor results in Ligue 1.
The northern French side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended "as part of a procedure started by the club." Lille did not elaborate.
Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second from bottom after 13 rounds.
After finishing a disappointing 11th last season, Lille hired the coach -- affectionately known as "El Loco Bielsa" (Crazy Bielsa) to his fans -- with the aim of returning to the Champions League, while playing an exciting brand of football.
Lille also recruited more than a dozen new players, but the team failed to gel and has won just three of their league matches so far.
Bielsa returned to France two years after he abruptly quit Marseille amid a contract dispute.
The Argentine, who quit Lazio two days after signing in July 2016, left Marseille after their French league opener in August 2015.
L'Equipe reported on Thursday that the club's owner, Gerard Lopez, CEO Marc Ingla and sporting advisor Luis Campos met in London on Wednesday to decide Bielsa's future.
They are expected to wait the five working days dictated by French law in such cases before meeting Bielsa to inform him of their decision to begin the process of sacking him for gross negligence.
The sports daily claimed that Lille will seek to avoid paying an estimated €14-16 million for the remainder of the former Athletic Bilbao boss' contract, which runs until 2019, by citing Bielsa's numerous public post-match statements in which he had claimed full responsibility for the club's troubles.
L'Equipe reported Lille had also hired private detectives to investigate the squad's behaviour and that a number of discrepancies, including players being up to 20 minutes late for video analysis sessions, had been uncovered.
The blame for the lack of discipline has been laid at Bielsa's door as he has not imposed a code of behaviour on his squad nor a system of fines as a means of punishment for those who step over the boundaries.
Fabian Taboada, an Argentine journalist working for ESPN, reported Bielsa, who did not take training on Wednesday, had left France to fly to Chile where his friend and former fitness coach Luis Maria Bimini is hospitalised with a serious illness.
ESPN FC's France correspondent Ian Holyman contributed to this report