Leeds United were brilliant in their win against Aston Villa on Friday, but one thing certainly had to be a point of concern for Marcelo Bielsa in the wake of the Whites’ victory.
Indeed, Pascal Struijk’s 20-minute cameo in defensive midfield was nothing short of a disaster.
The 21-year-old was selected to fill-in for the injured Kalvin Phillips, but after three clumsy challenges in the early stages of the match, Bielsa had seen enough as he chose to sub off the Dutchman before he picked up a second yellow card.
There are certainly lessons to be learned from this, and unfortunately, Bielsa may be back to square one when it comes to looking for a Phillips replacement.
The 24-year-old is out for the next six weeks, and the Argentine thought he could trust Struijk to step into his role, but it took just 20 minutes for him to be proven wrong on that front, and it’s a mistake that he shouldn’t make again.
Now, we’re not trying to disregard the youngster as a player, Bielsa clearly rates him incredibly highly, describing him as a ‘complete player’ and ‘valuable’, but he’s quite clearly not suited to playing in the lynchpin role in Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 formation.
He is much more accomplished as a centre-back and that’s where he should play going forward, especially when you consider that there is a better defensive midfield option right under Bielsa’s nose.
Indeed, Robin Koch is more experienced than Struijk in that role, playing there 58 times in his career, so it makes a lot of sense to just swap those two around in the starting XI.
Of course, Bielsa may have another solution in his mind and it’ll be interesting to see how Leeds line-up against Leicester next week, but one thing is for sure, Struijk shouldn’t play in defensive midfield again.