Centre-back. Left-back. Midfield.
Pascal Struijk can do it all at Leeds United.
The towering 6 foot 3 colossus has been nothing short of a sensation for the Yorkshire outfit, and he’s only going to get better.
He cost the Whites absolutely nothing when their director of football Victor Orta poached him from Ajax in 2018 and at just 22, he hasn’t looked out of place in the Premier League whatsoever.
Struijk has always delivered whenever called upon in whatever position manager Marcelo Bielsa needs him to play, though he appears to be a central defender by trade.
And that is where his long-term future is likely to settle.
“He’s going to become a supreme centre-back,” once claimed LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross. “He’s [Bielsa] worked with so many players in world football, and for him to say the things he’s saying about Pascal, it’s very, very exciting. Defenders don’t always get a very exciting press. It’s all about Raphinha, it’s all about Joe Gelhardt. But Pascal is the future.
“And the longer he stays under the radar, the better, because he’s got the lot, to be honest.”
In terms of this season alone, he’s amongst their most resolute defensive options, averaging the second-highest number of tackles per game (2.3) and third-highest number of interceptions per match (1.4), too, as per WhoScored.
The Dutchman is also very capable with the ball at his feet, having averaged a passing accuracy of 84.3%, which is only bettered by fellow centre-back, Liam Cooper (85.7%) – of those that have started ten or more league games.
It’s no wonder Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Joe Urquhart dubbed him a “beast.”
Those returns suggest he’s more than capable at reading a game and then acting upon it, whilst his ball-playing ability makes him one of Bielsa’s most reliable options to start playing out from the back – and that be why he sometimes slots into the defensive midfield role as he’s clearly able to dictate play.
Meanwhile, ex-Leeds star Dominic Matteo also believes “he’s got it all” and that he “looks comfortable in possession.”
Struijk is going to be an integral part of Leeds’ success for the remainder of the season, especially with the aforementioned skipper still absent through injury.
What makes it all the more impressive is the fact that he cost Leeds absolutely nothing. He’s now worth around €20m (£18m), according to CIES Football Observatory. A fee that is only going to rise alongside his impressive performances.
This has been something of a dream deal for the Yorkshire giants. He could stay for a long time and continue to make a huge impact or he could sold on for mega profit. It’s a win-win.
United hit the jackpot with Struijk, that’s for sure.