Pascal Struijk has joined Charlie Cresswell in putting pen-to-paper on new Leeds United deals, keeping them at the club until 2024 and 2023 respectively.
Leeds have put an awful lot of focus on youth investment over the last three years, with Andrea Radrizzani eager to revitalise the club’s strong academy with Marcelo Bielsa in charge.
The Argentine manager has a track record of blooding youngsters into his sides, and at Elland Road, he’s managed to increase the prospects of these youngsters tenfold.
Since taking charge in 2018, Bielsa has handed first-team debuts to 15 different players from Leeds’ under-23 setup, highlighting two things: how strong the academy is, and how willing he is to field them.
Defensive reinforcement was a priority in the summer and Leeds managed to bolster their backline with two regular internationals in Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
Alongside new signings, Pascal Struijk’s rise into the first-team has been exceptional and stopped Leeds from having to dip into the market for another defender.
His performances against Liverpool and Wolves have highlighted his capabilities in the top flight, despite being just 21-years-old.
Meanwhile, going about his business very well in the youth setup is Charlie Cresswell, whose performances earned him a debut in the EFL Cup this season along with international recognition, being called up to England under-19s.
It’s a huge bonus to have players for the future signed up to long-term deals, given how we’ve been exploited in the past.
I think those times are behind us now and the way our academy is being strengthened, we’re only going in the opposite direction, towards a very strong setup.
Cresswell made his debut in tough circumstances, in a defensive pivot that didn’t compliment anyone present, but his performance still showed great potential.
Struijk can easily be a Premier League first-team player in the future, and his attributes as a complete defender stand him in really good stead under Bielsa this season.