Arsenal are set to recall young striker Eddie Nketiah from his loan spell at Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed.
The 20-year-old striker has struggled for regular game time at Elland Road this season, scoring three times in 16 appearances – which predominantly came from the bench.
Nketiah started both of Leeds’ most recent two games, a thrilling 5-4 win over Birmingham and a 1-1 draw with Championship promotion rivals West Brom, with suggestions from some that Bielsa was trying to convince Arsenal to allow him to stay.
He was taken off at half-time against the Baggies, with his replacement Patrick Bamford later forcing a Leeds equaliser – and Bielsa admitted it may have been the last time Nketiah would be seen in his side’s shirt.
“Yes, we know that he’s not going to continue with us,” Bielsa told reporters.
“We are sorry for this. It’s a pity for us, and of course for Arsenal and him, maybe he didn’t expect what we offer them.
“But we feel gratitude for him, the time he was with us.
“He’s a great player, an excellent professional. He had very good behaviour. A gentleman in every sense.
"We are grateful with him. Also to his family and his club, they developed Eddie with a very good education. For this reason it’s a pity he leaves us because we were happy with him."
Nketiah himself confirmed that he'd be leaving the club, saying on Twitter: "Unfortunately my time at Leeds has come to an end. It’s been an amazing experience and a privilege to play for such an amazing club.
"I would like to say a big thank you to my teammates, the coaching staff and the manager for making my time here an enjoyable one.
"Lastly, a big thank you to all the wonderful fans for taking to me so quickly. I wish the club all the best and I’m sure you’ll get to the promised land."
Unfortunately my time @LUFC has come to an end. It’s been an amazing experience and a privilege to play for such an amazing club. I would like to say a big thank you to my teammates, the coaching staff and the manager for making my time here an enjoyable one. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/IgQNfkOWn5— Eddie Nketiah (@EddieNketiah9) January 1, 2020
Lastly, a big thank you to all the wonderful fans for taking to me so quickly. I wish the club all the best and I’m sure you’ll get to the promised land. #MOT @LUFC ⚽️🙏🏾 2/2 pic.twitter.com/6hEWZS2f3i— Eddie Nketiah (@EddieNketiah9) January 1, 2020
Leeds have also lost Tottenham loanee Jack Clarke ahead of the January transfer window, with Spurs’ summer signing hardly featuring during his own loan spell.
Now, Bielsa may be forced into action when the market opens as he looks to plug the gaps in his squad.
"We will analyse options for him and Clarke,” he added.
“We need to analyse the physical level of the players coming. Playing or not. If they fit our style. Try to make the best decision."
Big things were expected of Nketiah this season, with a sense of excitement from Arsenal fans about the prospect of him developing under master tactician Bielsa.
He scored his first Premier League goal on the final day of last season for the Gunners, having already featured sporadically in the cup competitions.
Now, it remains to be seen whether he will be sent out on loan again – with plenty of Championship clubs likely to have an interest – or whether new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will keep him in north London.
Nketiah leaves with Leeds top of the Championship, ahead of West Brom on goal difference alone but nine points clear of third-placed Brentford.