Former Leeds United star Dominic Matteo thinks that towering 6ft 3in centre-back Pascal Struijk “has it all” and can step up to play in midfield for Marcelo Bielsa.
Struijk is enjoying a run in the Leeds side this season because of injuries in the backline.
A recent suspension to Kalvin Phillips saw him step up to the defensive midfield spot but that didn’t work out with Leeds losing 1-0 to Brighton.
However, talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Matteo believes that Struijk is growing all the time and is a player to look out for.
“At the back, Pascal Struijk had another solid game beside Liam Cooper and he’s growing on me massively,” Matteo said.
“Because I played that position, I look at where Cooper is during games, I look at where Struijk is and positionally he’s good.
“He reads the game a lot better than he’s credited for. He’ll get even better too. Struijk is one to look out for.
“There’s plenty of work to be done but, with the size of him, his physicality, his passing, he’s got it all and can step into midfield.
“He looks very calm on the ball, players who are a bit erratic are not for me but he looks comfortable in possession.”
Solid at the back but…
Athletic journalist Phil Hay said that Leeds are already looking at two positions in the transfer market this summer – left-back and defensive midfield.
That suggests that Bielsa doesn’t have the same hope for Struijk as Matteo and he was out of depth in midfield against Brighton.
We have been impressed with the youngster at centre-back, though. He’s got the chance of a regular run in the side alongside Liam Cooper with injuries to Diego Llorente and Robin Koch.
Where Leeds fans might have worried at seeing his name in the starting XI before, that’s no longer the case and Struijk has really started looking at home at the back against some of the world’s best attackers.
Credit to him for stepping up in what’s been a tough season for him, that started in the first game of the season when he made his Premier League bow against Liverpool at Anfield.
The fact that Leeds didn’t go in for another centre-back in January after injuries to Koch and Llorente suggests that Bielsa is happy playing Struijk at the back for as long as is needed.
He’ll be tasked with keeping Dominic Calvert-Lewin quiet tonight.
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