By Sam Stone

22nd Dec, 2022 | 2:10pm

Joe Gelhardt reacts to contract news at Leeds United as Pascal Struijk signs up

Joe Gelhardt has reacted to Pascal Struijk’s new Leeds United contract as the Dutch defender extends his Elland Road stay until 2027.

The Whites confirmed (21 December) the 23-year-old has added a further four-and-a-half years onto his current deal, which was set to expire in 2024.

Gelhardt was quick to congratulate his teammate on Instagram after the news of his Elland Road extension broke on Wednesday.

“Congrats big man,” wrote the young attacker (Struijk’s Instagram post, 21 December).

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Struijk has been one of Leeds’ standout performers in the 2022/23 season and it is brilliant news to see the defender commit his long-term future to the club. It shows the Dutchman is invested in the vision at Elland Road, and also protects the club in terms of a future transfer fee.

If his performance levels continue, he is likely to attract interest from elsewhere and it would’ve been a disaster to lose the defender for well below his value. Next on the agenda for Jesse Marsch is to land a suitable left back, which will allow Struijk to operate in his preferred position.

He’s done well out-of-position, but he will be far more effective for Leeds in his normal centre-back role. A left-back has to be the American’s top priority in the January window, with his current options a real cause for concern.

Junior Firpo is simply not at the level required for the Whites at the moment, with competition desperately needed.

In other Leeds United news, Andrea Radrizanni slams Emiliano Martinez for his World Cup antics