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Leeds: Pascal Struijk is boosting his World Cup chances

Leeds United have endured something of a turbulent start to the 2022/23 campaign, with Jesse Marsch’s side currently sitting 15th in the Premier League standings after 12 games played.

Indeed, despite getting off to a fantastic start in the league, securing wins against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea and a draw against Southampton in their opening three fixtures of the season, the Whites then went through a period of eight games without a victory in the top flight – a run they ended in spectacular fashion with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Individual performances have also been up and down, with Jack Harrison scoring one goal and providing three assists over his first three league outings before failing to contribute to a single goal in the nine fixtures since, while Patrick Bamford is yet to score over his ten top-flight appearances and Diego Llorente has already made two errors leading to a goal at the back.

However, one player who has – rather surprisingly – been one of Marsch’s most consistent and impressive performers in the league has been Pascal Struijk, the 23-year-old central defender who was initially deployed at left-back to cover for the injured Junior Firpo, before going on to claim the full-back spot for his own – despite the return to fitness of Firpo.

Indeed, over his 11 Premier League appearances in 2022/23, the £13m-rated talent has been fantastic in a defensive capacity, helping his side keep two clean sheets, as well as making an average of 3.2 tackles – the eighth-most in the league – 1.8 interceptions, 2.0 clearances and winning 7.0 duels – at a success rate of 55% – per game.

The former Netherlands U17 international has also caught the eye going forwards, scoring one goal, registering one assist and creating two big chances for his teammates, in addition to making an average of 0.7 key passes, taking 0.6 shots and completing 0.8 dribbles per game.

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These returns have seen the £7k-per-week defender who Tony Dorigo dubbed “magnificent” average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.92, currently ranking him as Marsch’s joint fifth-best player in the top flight – an extraordinary feat for a player playing out of their natural position.

As such, should Struijk continue this sensational form over the coming weeks, the uncapped 23-year-old would do his chances of sneaking into the Netherlands World Cup squad no harm whatsoever, with the Dutchman’s performances so far this season having caught the eye of Louis van Gaal who has already named the defender in his preliminary squad.