Revealed: Bielsa has big plans for never-before-seen Leeds colossus after major development

By Wayne Veysey

Leeds United rising star Pascal Struijk is earmarked to break into the first team this season after being handed a new contract by the club, Football Insider understands.

The Dutch centre-back, 20, was among a glut of youth-team players handed new deals yesterday as United looked to secure the futures of those they regard as capable of eventually making the senior side.

A Leeds source has told Football Insider that Struijk has made a huge impression on manager Marcelo Bielsa, who is ready to fast-track him into the team this season in the same way as he has with the likes of Jack Clarke and Jamie Shackleton.

Struijk, who was signed from Ajax in January 2018, and has made the bench on four occasions, including once in the new campaign, the 3-0 demolition of Stoke City.

The 6ft 3in defender is a regular for the Leeds under-23s side, with his five appearances at that level this season not only yielding four clean sheets but also two goals for him.

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Struijk, who turned 20 last month, is regarded by Bielsa as a back-up to senior centre-backs Liam Cooper, Ben White and Gaetano Berardi.

He will turn to the Dutch youth international if the first choices are out due to injury or suspension, with the manager regarding the youngster’s potential as one of the reasons he did not sign another senior centre-back in the summer window.

Bielsa has handed first-team debuts to nine players from Leeds’ academy since taking over last season.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that senior players are finding teammate an “absolute nightmare” at Thorp Arch.