Pascal Struijk’s performance for Leeds United’s Under-23 side on Monday evening was sensational as the Whites’ second string side earned a narrow 3-2 win over Millwall – but the Dutchman’s form hardly comes as a surprise.
The 20-year-old opened the scoring for Carlos Corberan’s side as he stroked an effort into the back of the net, following good work from Gjanni Alioski. Goals from Eddie Nketiah and Mateusz Bogusz saw Leeds win at Thorp Arch.
The former Ajax youngster has been a regular in the reserves and his performances have noit gone unnoticed by Marcelo Bielsa. Indeed, Struijk was included in the 18-man squad both Championship play-off matches last season.
Leeds sold Ponus Jansson to Brentford earlier this summer and without the Swede, Leeds had a hole in their defence despite the impressive start to life at centre-back from Ben White. Struijk, though, has surely taken a step closer to the senior side.
As Struijk continues to rise, then, the Leeds board have a huge decision to make. Gaetano Berardi is first reserve to both White and captain Liam Cooper, but the versatile defender is now 31 years of age and is nearing the end of his contract at Elland Road.
Indeed, the one-time Switzerland international had entered the final 12 months of his current deal, and it remains to be seen if Leeds will offer him a new deal under Bielsa. Struijk’s rise may have a say in whether a deal is handed out to Berardi.
If the Netherlands youth player can break into Bielsa’s side on a regular basis and show fans and the board alike that he has more than enough potential to become a regular at Elland Road, then perhaps Berardi will be released on a free.
Struijk could have a major say over the course of the next season, whether Berardi stays or leaves come June 2020.