Mateusz Klich is a Bielsa mainstay now but it seems that he was very close to getting bombed out of Leeds United for good following his loan spell to FC Utrecht.
He was sent there after signing for Leeds by Thomas Christiansen and returned when Marcelo Bielsa had arrived at the club.
He’s only missed one league game for the club since – the post-celebration game against Derby after the Championship had been won – and has enjoyed a total transformation under Bielsa.
But it seems Klich has an injury and a player exit to thank for his career resurgence.
In an interview with Polish outlet NewOnce.Sport, Athletic journalist Phil Hay described how close Klich came to the end of his career at Leeds.
“When Bielsa arrived, he divided the players into three groups: the wanted, the unwanted, and the ones who must be disposed of immediately. Klich belonged to the latter group.
“That group was jokingly called the ‘bomb squad’ at Leeds.
“If it weren’t for the injury of Adam Forshaw and the sale of Ronaldo Vieira, no one would have looked at him… the club thought it was money down the drain.”
In a recent press conference, Bielsa said of Klich that he could play for any of the big teams in the world.
That’s a strong statement and Hay claims this isn’t hyperbole from Bielsa.
“Bielsa is not a coach who usually says things like this,” Hay added. “He’s normally reserved in judgement and rarely exaggerates anything.
“He has probably never been so sure that he has an incredibly talented player.”
Essential for Leeds
Kalvin Phillips is often cited as the most important player in the Bielsa system but Klich can’t be too far behind him.
When Phillips was out and Klich dropped back into the holding midfield spot, the team lost all of its balance.
And Klich is the player who keeps the relentless Leeds attack going.
You can see from the 1-0 win against Everton how important Klich is to the team, with by far the most pressures over the 90 minutes.
Most Leeds pressures vs. Everton:
Mateusz Klich (27) 🌟
Kalvin Phillips (18)
Jack Harrison (17)
Stuart Dallas (12)
Patrick Bamford (12)
Gjanni Alioski (12)
Luke Ayling (11)
Liam Cooper (11)
Robin Koch (10)
Raphinha (9) pic.twitter.com/id8FEIeTv6
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) November 29, 2020
You can also see from the graph of total actions against Everton just how hard he works and how much of the pitch he covers.
His fitness is incredible and his amazing record of consecutive starts was only interrupted for the game against Derby when all the Leeds players seemed to be suffering from hangovers.
To call him essential would be an understatement but his transformation has been incredible – and a little bit fortunate by the sounds of things.
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