Given Marcelo Bielsa’s unconditional trust in his Leeds United players, it’s no surprise to see that so many of his key first-team stars have been playing week-in and week-out for a number of years now.
The likes of Kalvin Phillips, Luke Ayling and Mateusz Klich have been virtual ever-presents for the Argentine at Elland Road, with the latter in particular now having played a whopping 115 games under Bielsa.
Klich will turn 31 later this year, and yet he remains an integral part of Leeds’ midfield, featuring in every single Premier League game this season – in fact, such has been his importance to the side, even when he has been an injury doubt before a game, Bielsa has thrown him straight into the starting eleven.
However, a succession plan must already be in the Leeds boss’ mind, and it’s why 18-year-old starlet Jack Jenkins could be the player to fill that role in the years to come.
Described earlier this season as someone who has “quietly been establishing himself as one of the most promising players in the Thorp Arch set-up”, the teenager seems to have all the tools in his locker to become a real force for the Whites.
Traditionally a number eight, Leeds Live revealed that he has blossomed into one of the most important players for the club’s U23s, and that he has “already displayed a lot of maturity this season in terms of his tactical understanding and discipline, qualities which no doubt appeal to Bielsa and helped his promotion to the first-team squad.”
The 5 foot 9 starlet, of course, has just the one senior appearance for Leeds under his belt, a 45 minute appearance in the FA Cup against Crawley Town earlier this month.
Whilst Nohan Kenneh appears to be one of the stand-out players of the Whites’ youth system – Phil Hay even described him as “supremely-gifted” – Jenkins could well develop into one of the most important academy products to come out of Thorp Arch.
Replacing a player of Klich’s importance promises to be a tall order, but at 18, Jenkins has got all the time in the world to develop and grow under Bielsa’s leadership.