BBC pundit Noel Whelan has claimed that Pascal Struijk is “so ineffective” in the defensive midfield role, that Leeds United might as well play with 10 men.
Whelan delivered the harsh verdict on BBC Radio Leeds after the 1-0 defeat to Brighton on Saturday.
Struijk filled in for Kalvin Phillips who was suspended after picking up five yellow cards.
Whelan wasn’t impressed. He said, “I don’t think he [Struijk] can play that role [defensive midfield], he’s not comfortable there.
“He’s so ineffective in that role that you might as well not even have him out there.
“He’s not doing the job Kalvin can do and that’s why he’s so important to this team, Kalvin Phillips, because no one can do it like Kalvin, it’s as simple as that.
“Everything seems to click better when Kalvin is there.”
Struijk the fall guy
You’ve got to feel sorry for Struijk. His first ever Premier League game was against Liverpool at Anfield, when he lined up alongside debutante Robin Koch.
He was played in Kalvin Phillips’ position against Aston Villa and hooked after just 21 minutes.
That’s the sort of thing that can be a real blow for a young player but Struijk keeps coming back and keeps getting the nod from Bielsa.
However, forcing him into that midfield role just isn’t working. The problem of square pegs and round holes doesn’t get any better with time.
The problem is, Leeds have no other real options now that Robin Koch is out injured until the spring. He was supposed to bring the cover for Phillips.
Bielsa doesn’t like bringing in players in January but sometimes needs must. If Leeds are better off with 10 than having Struijk out in midfield, surely it’s time to take a calculated gamble in the transfer market?
In other Leeds United news, Leeds ‘are ready’ to move for midfielder wanted by Bielsa – 6-month loan, no obligation