Aerial colossus Pascal Struijk is set to become a “great player” at the heart of the defence for Leeds United.
That is the view of former Leeds striker and lifelong Whites fan Noel Whelan who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has insisted the 21-year-old needs to keep playing in his “natural” centre-back role at Elland Road.
The Netherlands youth international has filled in as both a ball-winning midfielder and a defender for Marcelo Bielsa this season and he started at the back against both Burnley and West Brom.
In his four starts at centre-back in the Premier League, Leeds have conceded five goals – four of which came in the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season.
Having watched Struijk help keep clean sheets against both Burnley and West Brom, Whelan has insisted the young enforcer needs to stay as a defender to fulfil his potential.
Whelan told Football Insider: “I think the last two games, you look at Burnley, you’ve got a lot of height and a lot of aggression to contend with, the same again with set pieces against West Brom.
“I felt that that was their, probably, biggest chance to you know to maybe hurt us but, again, he just looks a lot better playing in his natural habitat and position.
“You can see what a great player he will be, he likes that aggression side, he’s very competitive in the air, he’s got that little bit of a nasty streak but he’s also very good on the ball.
“His ball distribution, his choices of passes but I think his overall intelligence of playing that centre position, he looks a lot more comfortable.
“Again, I was impressed with lots of people but to see him back in that position where he’s natural, you really can see a player in him.”