By Joe Ellis

18th Jan, 2022 | 4:20pm

Leo Hjelde told to lose weight to have future as Leeds United player

Leeds United breakout star Leo Hjelde has revealed he was told to lose weight if he was to make it as a Premier League player for the Whites.

The 18-year-old made his Premier League debut against West Ham when he replaced Junior Firpo at left-back for Marcelo Bielsa’s side who went on to win 3-2.

Hjelde earned his full debut a week earlier against the same opposition and came through both games in flying colours, looking like a seasoned pro against some of the country’s most in-form players (Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen).

“It is a bit surreal to get the debut at such a young age, it makes it almost even better,” Hjelde said, speaking to Norweigian media outlet NRK.

“Everything happened very fast. There were two players [Firpo and Forshaw] who went down and then I was told to go out and warm up. When I realised I was going in, my heart was pounding.

“The start has been very nice, but it took me a couple of weeks to get into everyday training.

“I was told that I had to lose a few kilos to become a Premier League player. You have weight goals, so I was told to lose a few kilos to be at the combat weight they wanted. It was a bit heavy to step down on the food.

“There is a lot of running. For my part, there have been brutal training days at times,” he added when asked about Bielsa’s training regimes.

Player to build around

Hjelde may only be 18, but he is the kind of player Leeds United could build an entire team around.

Everything we’ve seen of him so far suggests he is an unflappable individual who loves a battle against his opposite number.

To have been put up against Antonio and Bowen in his first two games, once in a position unfamiliar to him, and keep both relatively quiet throughout speaks volumes.

There’s a maturity with Hjelde that is very difficult to find in teenagers and that should be exploited by Bielsa.

The Argentine should be giving him as much game time as possible and looking to build the next cycle of Leeds United around him, the heart of the defence.

In other Leeds United news, Sky Sports have shared a major transfer update on this Elland Road-linked player.