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Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa must unleash Joe Gelhardt

While Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side have not exactly got off to the best of starts in their 2021/22 Premier League campaign, with the Whites’ having picked up just 12 points over their opening 13 fixtures of the season – five fewer than at the same stage last term – there have nevertheless been a couple of positives at Elland Road.

Perhaps the biggest of these has been the emergence of 19-year-old centre-forward Joe Gelhardt, a player who there is a considerable amount of excitement about at Thorp Arch following a 2020/21 campaign in which the youngster scored 11 goals and registered three assists over just 16 Premier League 2 fixtures for the Whites U23 side.

Indeed, even Bielsa appears to be an extremely big fan of the England U21 international, with the 66-year-old manager waxing lyrical about the striker’s potential in a recent interview with Sky Sports, stating: “I’m not surprised by his integration. In some way, when I call on someone who is not usually in the starting XI, it’s because I’m convinced he can offer us a positive result.

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“It didn’t surprise me that he was able to compete at this level as he has worked hard to deserve these opportunities. He has shown me that he is someone who has the right tools to have an impact without any problems.

“He’s a player that always creates danger in a game. He’s a player who’s more linked with the finishing of chances rather than the creation of them, but he has [the] resources to beat an opponent and he has a final shot, a finish that is very good.

“He’s like a human wrecking ball. I like him, he’s really exciting. He’s fast, he’s aggressive, he gets on the ball, he takes people on. Once he gets into the box, he loves it. That’s where he can do most of his damage.”

Should Gelhardt start against Palace?

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It is easy to see why Bielsa – a coach who has managed forwards such as Fernando Llorente, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Aritz Aduriz, Carlos Tevez, Alexis Sanchez and even Gabriel Batistuta in his career – is so excited about Gelhardt, as the 19-year-old has highly impressed over his three Premier League appearances for the Whites.

Indeed, the £1.17m-rated man won his side a last-minute penalty with a driving run into Wolverhampton Wanderers box back in October, effectively securing a point for the Whites, while he also completed a whopping five dribbles, won eight duels and received a SofaScore match rating of 7.0 for his battling display against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.

As such, after somewhat surprisingly being left on the bench in the 0-0 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, Bielsa must unleash the centre-forward against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, as the £16.5k-per-week teenager has already proven to be something of a game-changer for the Argentine coach.

In other news: Cross drops major Leeds injury update ahead of Palace clash, fans will be buzzing

Article title: Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa must unleash Joe Gelhardt

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