Rome (AFP) – Marcelo Bielsa, who pulled out of coaching Lazio in a shock move just 48 hours after his appointment was announced, has blamed the club for his exit saying it had failed to sign a single player.

The intense Argentine, known as “El Loco” (the Madman), called Lazio boss Claudio Lotito overnight Thursday to say he had decided not to come to Rome after all, triggering threats of legal action from the Italian club and denials it had broken any promises.

In a curt letter to the Serie A club dated July 7 — which appeared in Argentine media on Saturday — Bielsa said: “It had been decided and made clear… that reinforcements were necessary, taking into account the departure of 18 players from last season.

“It was agreed, as an essential condition to the implementation of the work programme, that we would sign at least four footballers before July 5, with the aim that they would participate in pre-season training.

“To this date, not one player has been signed. For my method of working we needed to have these players arrive in a timely manner to train.”

Bielsa also complained that Lazio announced he was to join the club knowing full well that the conditions he had demanded had not been met.

Bielsa, touted for the coaching role left open by Gerardo Martino at the Argentina national team, stressed in the letter that he had “no other work offer in hand”.

Struggling Lazio finished eighth last season, far behind arch rivals AS Roma.

The club had released a press statement on Wednesday announcing to much fanfare that it had snapped up the former Argentina and Chile coach.

On Friday it promised legal action after revealing Bielsa had pulled out of the deal.

Club lawyer Gian Michele Gentile rubbished the Argentine’s explanation on Saturday, telling a press conference “there was no reference in the contract to conditions linked to signing players”.

“He wanted to create a pretext to get out of the contract.”

While the club has not decided how much it would be going after in damages, Gentile said it would be “an important sum”.

Sporting director Igli Tare said Lazio had “tried to get the four players he wanted” but were thwarted by “external pressures”.

“Having had something to do up close with Bielsa I think I understand now why they gave him that nickname El Loco,” he said.

With pre-season training about to begin, Simone Inzaghi will step in, having taken temporary charge in the second half of last season.

“Inzaghi is not a second-best choice, but a decision determined by the failure of another coach,” Lotito said.