After making his comeback against Fulham last time out in the Premier League, Leeds defender Robin Koch must surely be pushing for a start against Sheffield United today.
The Germany international had been out of action for a few months with injury for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, so his brief cameo in the 2-1 win against the Cottagers would have been a very welcome sight for the Whites boss.
With the Blades turning up to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, it’s the perfect time for Leeds to see how their two summer signings Koch and Diego Llorente fare as a centre-back partnership.
Without the German in the team, Leeds have struggled to keep a lid of things in defence, keeping just five clean sheets in the 17 Premier League games he has missed.
As per WhoScored, he boasts the best passing accuracy of any senior Whites centre-back, and that’s incredibly important for Bielsa as he looks for his side to play out from defence.
The 24-year-old also ranks highly compared to the rest of his teammates when it comes to his defensive contributions, averaging the third best in terms of interceptions per game, and being dribbled past the fewest amount of times per match of any defender in the squad, per WhoScored.
Vincenzo Grifo, Koch’s former teammate at Freiburg, talked up his ability to The Athletic by saying: “He’s very vocal at the back and he loves to have the game in front of him. He’s an outstanding organiser. His improvement is incredibly rapid, including in the national team, and he’s on a path to become a world-class player, a monster centre-back.”
Former Leeds defender Tony Dorigo dubbed him the “rock” in the middle of their rearguard earlier in the campaign, and so it must have been incredibly frustrating for Bielsa to be without one of his key men for so long.
The £17m-rated Koch could be key to ensuring that the Whites tighten up defensively and preserve a clean sheet, while also offering more in terms of his passing and building play from the back.
It’s why Koch could be a real game-changer for Leeds and Bielsa as they look to pick up all three points against relegation-battling Sheffield United.