As Leeds search for reinforcements in this January transfer window, one player who may be looking over his shoulder, is Pascal Struijk.
Hailed as “very influential” by Marcelo Bielsa, who handed him his senior debut for the club in the Championship last season, Struijk has grown into a regular in Leeds’ first-team squad over the past twelve months.
Speaking to Football Insider, former Leeds ace Noel Whelan said earlier this month: “You can see what a great player he will be, he likes that aggression side, he’s very competitive in the air, he’s got that little bit of a nasty streak but he’s also very good on the ball.
“His ball distribution, his choices of passes but I think his overall intelligence of playing that centre position, he looks a lot more comfortable. Again, I was impressed with lots of people but to see him back in that position where he’s natural, you really can see a player in him.”
But with Erick Pulgar’s potential arrival at Elland Road, Struijk is likely to see game-time harder to come by in that holding midfield role, with talisman Kalvin Phillips already ahead of him in the pecking order.
And then when you consider that both club captain Liam Cooper, and summer signing Diego Llorente, have returned to fitness in the past couple of weeks, it becomes that much more difficult to see where Struijk really fits into this Leeds set-up unless injuries or suspensions occur.
After making 11 appearances this season in all competitions, and starting and completing the full 90 minutes in the past four Premier League games too, the 21-year-old is in real danger of being dropped from the line-up and going back to a place on the bench.
Bielsa described him as someone who “gives everything and asks for nothing in return”. But unless he really steps up his performances, that effort may not mean much given Pulgar’s potential signing and the return to fitness of the likes of Cooper and Llorente.