Roberto Martinez has told Belgian outlet RTBF that Leeds United defender could be the solution to a big hole in the Belgium national team, amid reports that the Spaniard has spoken with Struijk over choosing Belgium.
Struijk, 21, has excelled for Leeds. Initially coming into the side in the Championship, he has become a crucial part of Marcelo Bielsa’s side this season – clocking up 19 appearances in all competitions for the Whites. He even scored against Arsenal.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported earlier this year that Martinez had spoken to Struijk – with the defender able to play for Belgium, Netherlands and even Indonesia, but the latter probably stand little chance compared to the aforementioned two.
Belgium boss Martinez was asked about Struijk – and he responded by stating that the defender is certainly on his shortlist. He explained that he had been impressed by the Leeds ace, and claimed that Belgium are lacking a player in that mould.
“I was very impressed with his performance when he started playing for Leeds in the Championship. We have to look to the future, and we don’t have that kind of profile. A left-handed central defender,” Martinez said.
“He is a dynamic player, very present and who can play in different positions. We probably have the best of world football with Jan Vertonghen or Thomas Vermaelen, but these are players who are over 30 years old. “
TBR’s view – Is Struijk good enough for Belgium?
He certainly can be. But to reach the heights of becoming a regular for Belgium, Marcelo Bielsa needs to focus on playing him at centre-back, or the left side of a back three. Of late, he has been used in holding midfield.
But Struijk lacks the pace and mobility of a midfielder. While he has the ball-playing ability of Kalvin Phillips, he needs more agility to play in the middle of the park. Keep him in defence, and it strengthens his chances of playing regularly for Belgium.