Final nail in the coffin: Bielsa favourite’s Leeds career may hinge on “valuable” ace – opinion

October 24, 2020

Leeds United have been forced into experimenting in a key position.

Kalvin Phillips’ injury has forced Marcelo Bielsa into conjuring up a plan that involves playing Pascal Struijk as a defensive midfielder, and that should set alarm bells ringing in another man’s head.

Indeed, Adam Forshaw should be watching Struijk’s performances in the holding midfield role with a vested interest as his Leeds career may hinge on it.

Forshaw hasn’t played in over a year due to injury, but if he were available he’d likely be United’s second-choice in that defensive midfield role behind Kalvin Phillips. However, if Struijk slots in there and shines, he may drop further down that pecking order.

The former Middlesbrough man’s Leeds career already looks to be dangling by a thread, with United making no secret about the fact they wanted to sign a new midfielder in the summer. Their highly-publicised pursuit of Michael Cuisance fell apart at the 11th hour, and if Struijk usurps him in the defensive midfield hierarchy that may be the final nail in his coffin.

It’s a real shame to say that as well because Forshaw was one of Bielsa’s favourite players when he was fit and available with the Argentine previously saying that he combines the best qualities of Phillips and Mateusz Klich, but a lot has changed at Elland Road since Forshaw last played.

Struijk certainly has the talent to succeed in that role and he has earnt a lot of praise from Bielsa, who has described him as a “complete player” and “valuable” in the past.

The 21-year-old faces a huge challenge in trying to fill Phillips’ shoes over the next six weeks, but if he can show that he’s a capable defensive midfielder it could spell trouble for Forshaw’s future at Elland Road.

It’s certainly something to keep in mind in the coming weeks.

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