By Joe Roberts

24th Oct, 2023 | 4:40pm

Pascal Struijk Daniel Farke's biggest Leeds success as 'pivotal' ace hailed in pre-Stoke presser

Pascal Struijk is Daniel Farke’s biggest Leeds United success so far after his excellent performances in the Championship this season.

The German boss hailed Struijk in his pre-Stoke City press conference, saying as quoted by Phil Hay on X (24 October): “He adapted well to my demands and he’s played a crucial part. We don’t have to talk about his skills with the ball. I’m very pleased with his development.”

While so many of Elland Road’s stars have impressed under the new manager, Struijk’s impressive form, considering his struggles last season, has made him one of the Championship’s standout defenders.

In The Athletic (4 October), Hay hailed Struijk as “pivotal” in achieving Farke’s defensive tactical strategy that has seen Leeds achieve the third-joint-lowest goals conceded in the league.

Per FBRef, Struijk has completed 859 passes this season- 325 more than second-place Ethan Ampadu – showing the consistent impact he has in building from the back for the side. His ability to maintain possession and pass the ball on is crucial for their buildup play and his passing accuracy is among the best in the Championship, earning 92 per cent in the Whites’ 3-2 win against Norwich, per SofaScore.

The Dutchman is one of only three Leeds players to have played 12.0 90s of football this season with Illan Meslier and Ampadu, so his manager clearly values and depends on the 24-year-old.

Farke clearly relies on Struijk to keep the defence strong and has formed an excellent partnership with Tottenham loanee Joe Rodon. This centre-back partnership could rival any other in the Championship, but should Leeds get promoted, he may prove crucial in their survival.

While Struijk would naturally thrive in a lower division than the Premier League, Farke has set him up for a huge return to the top flight. His passing accuracy has improved by 9.4 per cent to 88.6 per cent compared to last season, while his percentage of tackles won has increased by 24.7 per cent to 90 per cent.

While these stats may even out over the course of the season, they do not lie. Struijk has quietly been one of Leeds’ best operators and their success is largely down to his consistent excellence.

In other Leeds United news, Paraag Marathe has signed off on some Leeds paperwork as resolutions are now confirmed