Joe Gelhardt is doing absolutely everything possible to secure his first-team debut for Leeds United. 

And not just on the pitch, but he’s still turning heads there.

He scored another hat-trick for the Under-23s on Monday and put in a performance that left many fans gagging for more from the talented young striker.

The final piece of the jigsaw has happened off the pitch.

When he arrived from Wigan he was talked about as being similar to a young Wayne Rooney.

Part of that was his stocky build – but the 2021 Gelhardt is a much leaner goal-scoring machine.

It’s not gone unnoticed, either.

One Leeds fan mentioned after the Under-23s game on Monday that “Gelhardt [is] looking a lot leaner. Just how Marcelo likes them.”

Athletic journalist Phil Hay agreed saying, “I mentioned in the piece that he’s lost weight since he came in (the Bielsa way). He ‘s looking fantastic”.

This is very exciting and very significant for Gelhardt fans.

Bielsa demands an elite level of fitness and physique from his players and Gelhardt seems to be doing everything right off the pitch to get in Bielsa’s favour.

The really important thing is that this leaning-down hasn’t affected his strength at all.

That’s one of the most important parts of his game.

In the game against West Brom on Monday he twice won free-kicks from situations that looked hopeless.

In the first, he was up against three West Brom players near the sideline and with seemingly nowhere to go.

He used his skill and strength to bamboozle the defenders and won a free-kick in a dangerous position.

The second example was arguably even more impressive.

Surrounded by West Brom players he used his body strength to hold them off, while doing not one, but three Cruyff flicks.

It was a ridiculous passage of play that shows Gelhardt has all the makings of a very, very special player.

The West Brom players were completely outclassed and the only thing they could do in the end was bring him down before he got to Cruyff flick double figures.

Gelhardt wins a crazy amount of free-kicks whenever he plays (and unlike Jack Grealish’s, they’re all deserved) and he won and scored a penalty on Monday, before slotting away another in the 5-0 win over West Brom.

Leeds Under-23s are way too good for Divison 2 and will head into the top division of the Premier League 2 next season.

Then, we think they’ll have to do without Gelhardt who we think will be a regular in the 21/22 first-team squad. He’s that good and we think he’s ready to make his top-flight bow now.

In other Leeds United news, ‘Very strong’ talk – Phil Hay delivers major Leeds transfer update 

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