Leeds United have had a brilliant first season back in the Premier League.
The Whites are comfortably sitting in mid-table and have secured their safety ahead of the next campaign. Victor Orta and Andrea Radrizzani can, therefore, breathe a huge sigh of relief.
There have been plenty of positives to Leeds’ play this season. Raphinha has proven to be a vibrant addition while very few would have expected Patrick Bamford to score double figures and find the net with such regularity.
Yet, one of the huge negatives has been in midfield. Kalvin Phillips is as reliable as ever but when the England international doesn’t play, Leeds struggle.
Pascal Struijk has looked every bit a Premier League defender but when he’s operated in a defensive midfield role, he hasn’t looked the part.
Indeed, Struijk was dragged off at half time in Leeds’ FA Cup defeat to Crawley at the beginning of the year, failing to win a single ground duel. Then, against Brighton, the Dutchman surrendered possession 13 times and was 8% down on his average pass success rate.
Those areas are pretty fundamental when playing in a holding area but he has been found wanting too often. Noel Whelan has been one of Struijk’s critics when featuring in that part of the field, saying: “I think Struijk looks out of place, playing Kalvin’s role.”
It’s hard to argue against that point given the unfavourable aggregate scoreline of 15-6 when the youngster plays in midfield.
One easy way of ending the Struijk experiment would be to sign another midfielder. Lille general Boubakary Soumare has been linked with a move to Elland Road in recent months while French wonderkid Edouardo Camavinga has too.
That being said, with the money Radrizzani and the 49ers possess, alongside the lure of Bielsa, it could be an attractive proposition for Camavinga.
Still only 18 years of age, the thought of the France international lining up alongside Phillips in the Leeds midfield is a mouth-watering prospect.
After all, this is a player highly thought of in France and deemed the next big thing. He’s been compared to N’Golo Kante and been given consistent high appraisals. Former Rennes academy boss Landry Chauvin once told Bleacher Report (via Planet Football):
“He has this simplicity that brings the ball to life. He touches the ball as much as anyone else, but sparingly. He doesn’t need to carry it. He passes the ball, he makes himself available; he passes, he makes himself available.”
Assess the stats and you can envisage what a midfield pairing of Camavinga and Phillips would look like. The teenager has amassed 2.7 tackles per game this term, a tally which coincidentally amounts to the same number as Leeds’ ever-improving midfielder.
With those two in the middle of the park, they’d have the potential to break up even the highest quality of teams when they try to attack.
Rated at £45m, it would be a hugely expensive deal. That being said, if a chance arises, they must secure his signature. Camavinga is too good to ignore.