Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch will have some tough decisions to make in the coming months as three players are out of contract at the end of the campaign.
Luke Ayling, Adam Forshaw, and Joel Robles are all set to depart on free transfers next summer and the manager, along with Victor Orta, will need to decide whether or not they want to keep hold of them.
Along with that, the Whites will need to keep an eye on contracts expiring at the end of the 2023/24 season. Any player who is a free agent at that point will only have a year left on their deal in 2023 and could leave on a pre-contract in January 2024, which is a situation the club will surely want to avoid for their key players.
Jack Harrison, Pascal Struijk, Rodrigo, Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, and Liam Cooper, among others, are all out of contract in 2024 and Leeds must manage this problem carefully.
However, forgetting the Englishman for a second, Orta must also move quickly to secure Struijk’s future at Elland Road following his maiden call-up to the Netherlands national team.
The Leeds chief can land a masterclass by reaching an agreement with the defender over the terms of a long-term contract extension that would put some security behind his place at the club.
At this moment in time, they are running the risk of either being forced to sell Struijk, who was once dubbed a “monster” by journalist Daniel Fraiz-Martinez, at a cut-price fee next summer or losing him for nothing 12 months after that.
This would be a huge loss for the club as the 23-year-old is a talented player with the potential to improve further. He played 29 times in the Premier League last season and has played every single minute of Leeds’ action in the top-flight so far this term, which shows how important he is to the team.
No defender with more than one appearance for the club has made more tackles and interceptions per game (5.3) in 2022/23 and this illustrates how strong he has been at the back so far.
At the age of 23, he also has plenty of time left ahead of him to develop and hone his skills as he gains more experience playing at the top level, with LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross once claiming that he will “become a supreme centre-back”.
His call-up to the Netherlands squad shows that his country also rate him highly and he could attract attention from elsewhere if he makes the step up to the international stage and catches the eye, particularly with the World Cup coming up in November.
Therefore, securing a new contract for the £7k-per-week gem before the World Cup could be a masterclass from Orta, as the Dutchman’s profile could be raised considerably if he ends up playing in the competition and impressing.
It would avoid a situation arising where teams start looking at the centre-back and he decides that he would rather explore his options than commit to staying at Leeds, whilst putting the club in a strong position moving forwards if any sides come in for him.