By Craig Scott

3rd Nov, 2021 | 6:10pm

Llorente and Struijk seem to be long-term defensive plan at Leeds United - Phil Hay

Leeds United “definitely” see Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk as their long-term centre-back pairing, according to Phil Hay.

Although Robin Koch has been injured for most of the season, Liam Cooper and Llorente appear to be Marcelo Bielsa’s go-to choices at centre-back at the moment.

However, The Athletic journalist Hay doesn’t see Cooper as being part of Leeds’ long-term vision at the back.

He took to Twitter on Wednesday to say: “Llorente/Struijk feels like the longer-term partnership, definitely.”

Harsh on Cooper?

Cooper captained Leeds during some tough times but he also captained the Yorkshire club to the Championship title, promotion to the Premier League and a ninth-placed finish last season in the top-flight.

He’s made 235 appearances in all competitions for the Whites and while he’s had his critics over the years, the Scottish defender has also been a solid foundation upon the building blocks placed by Marcelo Bielsa.

Cooper has been Bielsa’s Mr Reliable – but a good thing can only last so long.

The former Hull and Chesterfield centre-back has only recently turned 30-years-old but you get the sense that he isn’t really living up to being a Premier League-level defender.

He’s not going backwards, he just hasn’t improved since winning promotion and Leeds can definitely upgrade on him whenever they want.

Cooper is someone we admire and respect and we’re so grateful to have had him in the last few years.

But Struijk and Llorente just look so much better than Cooper, who’s prone to a calamitous error like the one at Arsenal last week.

In other Leeds United news, this Leeds player looked aggrieved by Bielsa’s latest snub.